When I told my peers and relatives I was going to do a research elective, to say that some questioned my decision would be to put it mildly
I honestly did not know what to expect but I went into the placement with an open mind and an inquisitive attitude and I was rewarded with a unique opportunity to broaden my practice in a health related area that I was curious about.
It has changed my perspective of research. Prior to this placement, I only associated research with referencing as part of an assignment. Now I think of it as a potential catalyst for change. I was given the opportunity to witness and help out a research team during an intervention as part of an ongoing study involving the promotion of ethics amongst care staff. Through interaction with the stakeholders of the study and by being able to ask questions to different members of the research team I have been awarded a new perspective on research in nursing.
“I began to appreciate individuals and their diverse backgrounds as well as what they have in common - the fact that each wants to make a tangible difference”
I got the chance to find out why different people are passionate about their role and their contribution to a research project - whether they were a participant, funder or researcher. I began to appreciate individuals and their diverse backgrounds as well as what they have in common - the fact that each wants to make a tangible difference to the maintenance and possibly the improvement of people’s dignity and quality of life in care.
One of the most memorable concepts I have encountered was the ‘appreciative inquiry’ approach to research. This is where a study identifies existing good practice, promotes what professionals already do well, and informs others of such practices with an aim to make it the norm within the nursing culture.
“It recognises the good work that the majority of health and social care professionals already do but are rarely recognised for by the media”
As a student nurse this gives me hope because it recognises the good work that the majority of health and social care professionals already do but are rarely recognised for by the media.
The highlight of my elective was being involved in discussions during a curriculum development meeting in the health science department of my university. I had the privilege of sharing my opinion on topics in the presence of the heads of department for nursing, midwifery, ODP and paramedic practice. I got to understand how complex it is to design the structure of a course and the challenges university staff face in finding new ways to teach and assess modules based on student feedback, and how all of this is done whilst constraints, such as limited resources, are a constant presence.
“If you make your objectives clear and set realistic expectations between you and your elective host from day one, you can accomplish a lot”
A research elective can be helpful for students interested in gaining an insight into post-graduate level of study. Understandably, some of my peers simply do not want to be involved in research after qualifying so would not have found such an elective suitable for them.
However, you can use the time to consider your dissertation topic, meet the relevant researchers within your chosen subject and engage with your tutors in more depth than you would than in a lecture.
In addition, this kind of elective is often less expensive to arrange in comparison to an elective abroad.
My main worry for this placement was whether I was just going to be an observer but this concern was unfounded. If you make your objectives clear and set realistic expectations between you and your elective host from day one you can accomplish a lot, and discover the wonder of research beyond the classroom in the process.
Kharll Galapon is a current student nurse