Week One – Induction – getting to know the research and development department

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Welcome and great that you have found your way to my very first blog! From now on, I will update you weekly for the next 8 weeks on the progress of my placement. My first 1,5 weeks have been pretty imposing and I have learnt a lot:

On my very first day, I only met a part of the team as most of the Research and Development Department were on annual leave. Nonetheless, the team made me feel really welcome. They introduced themselves and explained the general role of the department and I soon realised that the research conducted here is on a much larger scale than anything I have encountered at university.

One of my colleagues showed me my way around the maze that is the hospital and helped me sort out my ID badge and my parking permit. They also introduced me to dozens of people on our way through the hospital. In the afternoon, we went to meet Mr Haythem Ali who is a surgeon at Maidstone and the PI for the research projects I will be working on. Mr Ali invited me into the operation theatre and I observed three operations, which were really impressive. This gave me a really good understanding of the importance of the research project- to ensure a fast recovery after abdominal surgery. There could not have been a better start to a clinical placement.

In the following days, I learnt the essentials of the research project, including the role of the research physiotherapist, an introduction course to the library and research system I also learnt about good clinical practice which provides ethical and practical guidelines for research in a clinical area. I read the protocols of what research had been completed and written so far and some background reading into the subject matter itself. I have now started with a literature review and some potential outcome measures that could be included in the study.

One of my colleagues is conducting research exploring the relation between hip dysplasia and genetic variables. I joined her for an afternoon and we spoke to the parents of the babies to inform them about the study. If parents consented to their child taking part, we took a saliva sample of the babies. It is a really interesting and a large-scale study and it gave me a good insight into study procedures in a clinical setting.

Mr Ali took me the multidisciplinary meeting (MDM) where the specialists of the hospital get together to discuss the medical cases (think Dr. House). It has been an interesting experience to see how the medical “background” works. On the same day, Mr Ali and I discussed the objective for the projects and he explained the general procedure for medical research processes. In the afternoon, I was invited to observe the work in the outpatient’s clinic. It was a unique experience being able to join the meeting and the clinic.

Finally, over the weekend I managed it to get to the library at the University of Kent, and armed with a few books and background literature, I am ready for the next week.

All in all, it has been an overwhelming 1,5 weeks it gave me a good overview of a hospital, some theoretical and practical medical background about abdominal surgery and plenty of new medical terminology.  I am really grateful for the chance to join the R & D team for another 6,5 weeks.

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