Kathryn Cawley is a research nurse in Salford Care Organisation, working across the acute research delivery team and the inpatient research delivery team. She delivers clinical research primarily in haematology, but also supports critical care, stroke and emergency/trauma care research.
Why did you want to be nurse?
Aged 17, I was hit by a car while crossing the road, and spent a prolonged period of time in hospital. This gave me an understanding of the roles different healthcare professionals played in supporting patients.
The nurses were there for me constantly – all day and night. They were helping patients not only physically, but also psycho-socially. I know it’s a cliché but they really did “make a difference”.
This experience put the idea of nursing as a career into my mind. The idea of being able to make a bad day a little bit better for someone was very appealing. I thought nursing looked like a very challenging but very rewarding job, and I decided that this was what I wanted to do.
What do you enjoy about your role?
Clinical research is how we discover new treatments, or equipment, or techniques. It’s how we learn what works, and being a part of that is exciting.
When a drug that has been used in one of the trials I have worked on is found to be beneficial, and becomes licensed to be used for all patients, knowing I helped in that process is a great feeling.
For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic I recruited patients into the RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP trials, which is how we discovered that dexamethasone and tocilizumanb were effective treatments in Covid-19.
Tell us something interesting about your role?
Most people know some of what research nurses do: we spend lots of time talking with patients, we administer treatments, we collect samples, we make sure all aspects of trials are taking place in line with research governance and protocols, we have admin responsibilities.
But lots of people are surprised when they learn that for some studies we get to process the research samples – we are trained to spin the blood in the research labs in the CSB building, pipette off the serum, and store the samples in huge freezers until they are ready to be sent to trial labs.