Lauren Nance is a final year physiotherapy student at the University of Salford and her final six-week placement was with the Inpatient/Acute Research Delivery Team at Salford Royal. Here she writes about her experience and how it’s given her fresh insight into the way research influences clinical practice.
“Traditionally, physiotherapy students have completed placements in a hospital or outpatient clinic setting but due to the ever-evolving roles of physiotherapists, we were offered a research placement in place of a clinical placement for our final year. This was on a volunteer basis, as a trial before bringing in as a regular placement.
I had completed a psychology degree before changing paths to physiotherapy, and I had conducted my own research for my dissertation. I felt like this had given me a basic insight into research, but I was interested in finding out how large-scale research is conducted and the impact it has on clinical practice.
This placement has been very different from what I was expecting – I had no idea how many studies would be running simultaneously, nor the variety of areas for research.
The variety of research projects the team recruit to has given me invaluable experience – I have seen orthopaedic, stroke/neurology, critical care, intestinal failure and A&E based studies, and I have been able to recruit participants to some of these studies myself. There is always something to observe and it has been interesting to see how different people approach the recruitment process.
I have been able to relate the reasoning behind the trials that are currently running to the patients’ potential outcomes and what this may mean for physiotherapists in the future – even when the trials are not directly physiotherapy related.
For example, some of the critical care trials could have a profound impact on the amount of rehabilitation and the level of disability a person has following an intracranial haemorrhage. I have been lucky enough to work on a physiotherapy-led study based primarily in A&E where the aim is to identify whether we can improve patient pain scores after three months by providing them with a very simple exercise programme.
Throughout this placement, my clinical educator Beth Charles has arranged different shadowing opportunities to allow me to see where the research has the most impact.
I have spent an evening in A&E as part of the recruitment process for the ELECT-2 study, I have spent a day with the ICU physiotherapists where we are running multiple different studies and I have observed orthopaedic surgery.
I have also had the opportunity to visit the Manchester Brain Bank, which is hosted by Salford Royal, and discuss the research they do there, which has been an amazing experience.
Beth and both the acute and inpatient research teams have been incredibly supportive, encouraging and engaging throughout my placement. I think this is an excellent placement for students who are wanting to learn more about where our practices come from, as the outcome of a lot of the research being conducted here at Salford could significantly impact how we rehab patients. Spinal patients, neurological patients and those who have had long stays on ICU could benefit from this simply because the experimental conditions of trials could improve their potential for rehabilitation.”
Clinical educator and inpatient research team lead Beth Charles (pictured above right with Lauren) agrees that a placement in research offers a great opportunity to physiotherapy students to see a wide range of disease areas and to link in with specialists that they wouldn’t normally have the chance to meet.
She added: “It brings evidence-based practice to life and provides a grounding in understanding the practicalities of applying research in a real-world setting.
“By the end of her placement Lauren was able to screen and identify patients for a number of trials, including a physiotherapy-led chest trauma study (ELECT2) as well as acute and non-acute spinal trials. With supervision she recruited patients to studies, collected data and supported follow-up work.
“We wanted to provide Lauren with an opportunity to see a wide range of research and to bring to life the way in which we deliver clinical research.”