NIHR | Manchester Biomedical Research Centre

Six weeks to save the planet! – BRC research placement

Profile image of: Will Gregory

Author: Will Gregory

Advanced Musculoskeletal Practitioner / BRC Short Placement

Will Gregory, Advanced Musculoskeletal Practitioner, at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust (SRFT), blogs about his experience of a short BRC research placement within the neuromuscular service. The placement gave him valuable experience and insight into the workings of a tertiary-level clinical/academic integrated muscle service.

Stepping out

Having worked almost entirely in a patient facing clinical environment for the previous ten plus years in the NHS, the chance to consider a 30 day secondment in a world-class research team was both an intriguing and slightly disorientating possibility.

Now that I’m a third of the way into my placement I still feel intrigued but I’m now a lot less disorientated! In a busy clinical role it is hard to take a step back and think about how we can improve treatments, services and care, but this secondment has allowed me to do precisely that. The days in the research role have been just as demanding, but in a very different way.

Six weeks to save the planet!

We have a joking maxim in our physiotherapy department about “saving lives”, and are proud to see the impact our service has on our patients seen each day. Exploring the world of research has been a different way to consider the impact I can have in my job on patients’ health outcomes.

Taking a research based view of my work has already allowed me to further question why we do the things we do with and for our patients day-to-day.

A research project may well be a more gradual way to impact out patients’ lives, but could lead to world-wide practice changes.

The nuts and bolts of it

Through the placement scheme I have been released from my “day job” for one day per week to explore the world of research. Instead of my usual clinics I have been free to use this time to investigate research in my area of work (and sometimes outside it). I have visited University, private and NHS-based clinics and research services. I have also been given free access to The University of Manchester CARD courses (Centre for Academic and Researcher Development). I have had chance to dedicate other parts of my secondment to a detailed literature search of rehabilitation in myositis and am hoping to have written something of a review by the end of my 30 days – either for my own experience or if I’m really on it for publication. From the people I have met on this secondment I’m delighted to have been asked to use this review to feed into national and international guidance.

Where to now

It may be too early to judge this but having had this insight into research and having met a whole host of interesting people and seeing fascinating research applications I do feel this may be somewhere for my career to go. There have been discussions with various experts about next steps and it’s been great to get different opinions, to hear other people’s passions and to develop my own!

So, where do I sign up?

For me I was encouraged to consider this secondment by one of the Consultants in our team. It was very useful to have Dr Chinoy, Senior Lecturer in Rheumatology and Honorary Clinical Consultant, supporting my application. Convincing my physiotherapy manager was also made very easy, what with the back funding and the ability to work this as a 6 weeks 5-days-a-week block or one day per week over a longer period. Will this secondment change my career – maybe? Will it change the way I work, the way I treat my patients and the way I interact with my team – Yes! Would I recommend the placement scheme? Yes. Sign up, step up and see where you could go with “six weeks to save the planet!”