Research capacity building in Wales

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) here in the UK tells us that, at the end of March 2014, there were 680,858 nurses and midwives on the register. The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which regulates 16 different professions, tells us that on the same date approximately 322,000 individuals were registered. Adding these numbers together gives a total in excess of one million. That’s an awful lot of registrants. Only a small number of these, however, are directly engaged in research to inform current and future practice and fewer still have had opportunities to become fully independent investigators. As the Shape of Caring review puts it with regard to nursing:

It is currently estimated that 0.1 per cent of the nursing workforce in England are professors of nursing: an indication that there are simply inadequate numbers for the task of leading research and evidence-based practice. Many of these academics will retire in the next 10 to 15 years.

Given this mismatch, efforts to grow research are immensely important. Leading the way in this part of the UK is the RCBC Wales scheme, which:

[…] was established in order to increase the research capacity of nursing, midwifery and allied health professions in Wales and to contribute toward the development of clinical academic roles.

I was fortunate enough to be awarded an RCBC Wales post-doctoral research fellowship in 2006. In the last few weeks three Cardiff-based colleagues have been successful in securing the same in the most recent round of applications: Dr Jessica Baillie, Dr Lucie Warren and Dr Liba Sheeran. Jess is a nurse who will be researching the experiences of people who develop peritonitis as a result of peritoneal dialysis, Lucie is a midwife who will be investigating an intervention to improve the diet and physical activity of pregnant women, and Liba is a physiotherapist who is exploring how smartphone technology can help people recovering from back pain. Congratulations to all three.

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