I will get back to blogging…in fact, I have a half written blog that is almost ready to go… It’s just that it is sitting on my desk some 5,900 miles away.
In another country.
On another continent.
In another hemisphere…
Indeed. I’m as surprised as you. For someone who has managed to achieve a total academic/industrial/life geographical spread of approximately 25 miles, my current adventure marks quite the landmark! (Perhaps influenced by location/in-flight entertainment, my mind turns to a certain South American ursine fellow, and I’d like to assure my own “Aunt Lucy” team that I am indeed being very well looked after…)
So, here I am in Brazil, after day one of our collaborative workshop. Today has given all the participants opportunity to share short presentations outlining backgrounds, institutional key facts, and research highlights, and has been an eye-opening and enthralling introduction to an exciting week. I cannot pretend to do these talks justice in an off the cuff blog, but thoughts milling around my head this evening include:
Passion: all the participants spoke with such passion about their research, institutions and future aims… How can we fail to produce something meaningful if we harness this?
Diversity yet overlap: apart from the obvious differences from the UK/Brazilian participants, we all also bring wide ranges of experiences; infection prevention, management, clinical skills, educational training, sociology… However, within this diversity there are already emerging themes and points of overlap…and it is only day 1!
Fun: The day has been underpinned by laughter, warmth and blossoming friendships. Surely this is the perfect environment from which to begin discussions about future, meaningful collaborations…?
Looking forward to tomorrow…
(follow our progress on twitter #RAID15)
After a busy few weeks of holiday followed by personal quarantine, I thought it was time I put pen to paper and shared some of the thoughts I’ve been having whilst reflecting upon my time at Infection Prevention 2014…(#IP2014).
Being an “academic” in a “real-world” situation is a great privilege, it allows you to get a real sense of the current state – something which can be missed if you only rely on feedback from academic papers and conference discussions.
My new role within a medical setting has changed the way I interpret information. It is not that I am no longer optimistic – far from it, I am, and always will be, an optimist – but now I have a wider appreciation for the reality of infection prevention “as it is”. Day to day. On the front line. And this is not a negative, difficult reality view. Or one filtered through an anti-research, anti-forward thinking environment. On the contrary, as I have the pleasure of working with the 2013 IPS Team of the Year, noted for their continuous focus on engagement activities and involvement with research and development, both with IPS and the RCN.
However, it is certainly a different position to be in. And it made my experience of #IP2014 very different from my previous ones. Let me explain…
In 2012 and 2013 I experienced the IPS conference through the eyes of a “pure” researcher, eager to know what was “out there” in terms of new data, new approaches and concepts, and potential new technologies to appraise. I felt optimistic because infection prevention seemed to be moving at such a pace, swept along by incredible passion, determination and enthusiasm. The wealth of information produced, through conference papers, journal articles, webinars and seminars was mind-blowing, yet incredibly welcome to a researcher “new” to the field. Now, having completed my thesis and with more experience under my belt, I am much more concerned about what impact all this information could have on the way we work within healthcare. As I see it, from paper to practice.
So I felt very much like a two-headed monster through most of the conference sessions I attended – one brain very excited about recent findings, theoretical discussions and endless potential, whilst my “other” brain was much more pragmatic, continually asking the questions “how would this impact healthcare professionals on any given Tuesday?”, “is this feasible”, and sometimes just a rather pointed “Really?!”.
The saving grace (that prevented one or both of my heads exploding) was the delightful new experience of attending the IPS conference as part of a team. Each session we attended, together or individually, was followed by the opportunity to discuss implications for our Trust, our staff and our patients. This directly addressed my “paper to practice” dilemma, and kept the two headed monster calm.
As a team we were very excited to be presenting three posters (.pdf here: 1, 2, 3) outlining a diverse selection of our current activities, and also providing an oral presentation on how we won the inaugural IPS Team of the Year award (abstracts available here). I could not have been more proud of the enthusiasm, excitement and energy displayed by my colleagues; something which I am sure did not go unnoticed by the rest of the #IP2014 community.
A key aim of my role within the team is to ensure that research is conducted which not only involves healthcare professionals, but which is driven by them. Therefore I was particularly proud to be involved in delivering our posters which outlined research instigated, and conducted, by current active healthcare professionals. It’s exciting to know that this is just the start…
So here it is.
As we know, I have now safely navigated through the PhD journey, and can officially say I have qualified as a Doctor of Engineering. My thesis, which examines future systems of hand hygiene measurement in healthcare, will soon be available for anyone to read. Amazing.
Even more exciting (not sure I ever thought anything would top that…which shows you how much a PhD can change you!), we also know that I have now started working for the NHS – with the phenomenal IPCT at UHCW.
Now two weeks into my role as IPC Research Practitioner and I have been blown away by how much I am enjoying myself, how diverse the workload and challenges that face the team are, and crucially how overwhelmingly welcoming the team have been. I never doubted that for a second, but they have surpassed even my high expectations. I have LOVED every moment I have been there, and am so excited about the plans we have been making. One thing I know for sure…we’re going to be BUSY!
And my admission?
I am SMUG.
I cannot help it. I have tried to battle it, but to no avail. I just cannot help randomly smiling whenever I think about how much I am enjoying my new post-doc freedom, the ability to offer an “expert” opinion on real world, patient safety matters, and to be given the opportunity to develop research ideas that could make a difference to the way we think in the IP community. It’s fantastic, and the picture below sums it up beautifully.
Whilst I enjoyed my PhD journey immensely, there is an element of being “caged” – when all is said and done, the main purpose is to develop as a researcher, and ensure you display skills required to earn the qualification. Once this has been achieved, the freedom is granted to really focus on the research area…and this feels immense!
Having returned from a lovely holiday, it’s been such an exciting week so far – two major headlines:
Not sure what next week will bring, but tomorrow I have my final Warwick Women In Science (WIS) meeting before we announce our WIS A Day With…2014 plans, so I am sure there will be plenty more excitement to come…
Now I have had a few days to reflect on the BCU Safer Care Conference (#SaferCare14) I thought I’d jot down a brief overview, and then provide an update on what happened after my workshop…a session which involved a lot of talking, sharing of experiences, and post-it-notes…
The day started strongly with three high flying expert speakers addressing the diverse range of delegates.
Prof Laura Serrant-Green explored a history of nursing, highlighting that it was through the collection of evidence (relating to the health of those living in abject poverty in slums) that public health was driven to improve. This theme has continued with each major change that humanity has faced, be it global warming, industrial incidents, or the increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance. Healthcare has to respond to change.
Key to her talk was that nursing, and healthcare in general, can be viewed as a combination of science and art. It is a science to create new evidence, but it is an art to be able to translate this evidence and make it understandable for all…
Professor Mark Radford presented a compelling case for why research is relevant to everyone, encouraging the delegates to “be brave” and not to look at “dead end questions”. A fun quiz regarding “real” research definitely won over the audience. Much interest was also generated by his presentation of the UHCW CARE Model, a collaborative research approach rolled out at UHCW to widen participation and scope of research, to the benefit of all.
Ann Casey gave a wonderfully engaging talk beginning with a personal story about her experience with a patient named “Ted”. This experience was the trigger point for her to begin her research journey, and provided necessary motivation in the face of common barriers – including self-doubt, lack of time and lack of skills. Despite always knowing that something needed to change, it wasn’t until Ted came along that Ann was able to find the courage to break the cycle and trigger the change herself. It wasn’t easy, but she soon found that help was there if sought, and by taking a research approach change has occurred…
After these inspiring talks the delegates, refreshed from lunch, were able to develop their research skills through a series of tailored workshops. I ran one looking at common barriers to research, which allowed delegates to explore their experiences and perceptions of what prevented them being involved in research, and together we generated ideas of how these barriers could be overcome.
This involved lots of discussion, and the use of post-it-notes, which I have now been organising into common themes. We used a framework based on the work Roxburgh (2006), who highlighted factors limiting nurses’ participation in research, and the workshop output appears to extend and develop this. I’m quite excited with the data we’ve produced, and look forward to sharing it with the delegates and beyond shortly…
Until then, I’m just happy that I’ve managed to keep the post-it-notes in order…they did seem to get everywhere!!
I am delighted to be sitting here writing this blog, surrounded by scribbled notes, open books and half written Word documents… Some people would find this a nightmare, but to me it indicates that once again, many plates are up and spinning!
After my viva I experienced a bit of a low, as I had quite a wait before I received my modifications, and I wasn’t yet able to start working on a number of projects a little further down the pipeline. I found this hard to deal with, as my viva had left me so motivated about my research, and inspired me to really pursue my aspirations to make changes within infection prevention. To then find myself “stationary” was frustrating, confusing and unexpected. Therefore, now I am past that, my corrections complete and my new projects underway, I am even more excited than I was back in April. I’m not sure how I’ll cope in a month or so when the next wave of “new starts” occurs*…!!
There have been a few other exciting events going on, but I have to wait to share them. This will include my research on hand hygiene, and also some really exciting discussions I’ve been having with other scientists as part of The New Optimists. Fortunately I’ll be able to blog more going forwards, so expect shorter, more timely updates…
The next blog will provide a whistle-stop overview of the BCU Safer Care Conference…