Reflections on being a Primary Care Research Fellow – August 2016 to October 2017. A blog by Dr Suzy Duckworth
I joined the team at the UEA immediately after completing my GP training, but having already completed an MD in Women’s Health in London earlier the same year, I found my prior research experience equipped me with some of the skills I needed to involve myself with some established projects in the early part of my placement: previous exposure to IRAS, an understanding of some of the methodological approaches and a keen interest in developing meaningful, translational research.
I spent the first few weeks making contact with key members of the department, to gain an insight into the projects already underway and the supervisory skill set. I initially found it challenging to identify a research question I would like to address and was attempting to unite my experience of women’s health with a primary care focus. However, I soon became involved in GoalPlan; a project exploring patient-led goal setting during GP care planning, as a means of avoiding hospital admission and creating meaningful and pragmatic ‘SMART’ goals.
This project had progressed so that funding for a feasibility study was in place and the study protocol was already established. I attended weekly strategy meetings and collaborated with the team on various aspects of the study, contributing towards project design and planning. As Goalplan developed, I was able to employ my medical knowledge to ensure feasibility within the primary care clinical setting. Alongside another GP Research Fellow, I independently analysed and ‘scored’ the study consultations according to a defined scoring framework, by reviewing study video footage and providing specific observational feedback. Despite no longer working on this project, I hope to remain in contact with colleagues and obtain updates as to eventual study outcomes.
Having used mainly quantitative statistical analyses in the past, I was supported to explore qualitative techniques. During my fellowship I completed local training on research methodology, making grant applications and presentation skills as well as attending an ELISA conference at The Royal Society of Medicine, London.
I feel I have witnessed the growth of the project and am eager to follow its progression and hear the final conclusions, the outcomes of which could influence my own clinical practise and that of my peers, to better tailor our consultations to the priorities of our patients and ensure appropriate shared decision making.
I am sad to leave the team and feel privileged to have had the opportunity to develop my research exposure further, enhance my clinical skills and create significant working relationships and friendships.