30th May 2015 Blog

Reflections from my research placement

Lived experience • Mental health services • Research methods •

As a mental health student nurse, evidence-based practice is a term that is regularly thrown about. But what does evidence based practice mean?

It means that all the essential components of a nurse’s knowledge and skills in providing excellent health care is based on information emerging from the best available evidence – evidence which stems from research.ebp

Benefits of evidence-based practice

Evidence-based practice allows nurses to keep up to date with new information in a structured way, without being swamped with the thousands of new publications that are released each year.

It also allows us to make rational and informed decisions on care planning and recovery. The aim is for us nurses to be confident that we are providing the best up-to-date care possible.

Having spent three years on work placements within the NHS, I decided to give four weeks of my time to a charity. I particularly wanted to spend time with a charity that makes a difference to people and nurses alike.

I wanted to gain further understanding of research processes and to have first-hand experience of how a research charity can influence my future nursing practice. I also wanted to use the skills and knowledge I have gained during my studies to help, if possible, with the research process.

So, after some searching and ‘googling’ I discovered The Mcpin Foundation and what I read really excited me. I thought this was the type of organisation I wanted to spend some time with, and luckily, after some toing and froing of emails and phone calls, The McPin Foundation said they were happy to have me.

Making a difference to people’s experiences of mental health support

I feel very passionate about my role as a nurse. I have a strong desire to make a difference to people’s lives and their experiences of mental health support.

The staff at McPin share this passion and this can be seen in the projects that they work on, and the value they place on peer-led research. During my four weeks at McPin I have had the opportunity to work on some really interesting, innovative research projects that I hope will go on to shape how nurses practice in the future.

I found the IAPT evaluation particularly interesting as this is an area I worked in during previous placements. I found the service user’s feedback about their experiences of the IAPT intervention particularly insightful; qualitative research always allows you to get to the heart of people’s feelings about services.

Reading service users’ reflections on the importance of relationships, and feeling understood made me reflect on how I can improve this area of practice, and ensure people feel I understand them and their needs.

This, I suppose, is the aim of research and evidence-based practice. I read the research, looked at the evidence, and then reflected on how this could change my practice.

Ask people with lived experience

I am a firm believer that the best way to develop, improve and grow as a nurse is to ask the people who experience the services first-hand about their experiences.

So when I was invited along to a SUGAR (Service User and Carer Group Advising on Research) seminar I was really interested to see how the group helped McPin with their research, and how the group worked.

I found the discussions really informative, especially how they speak to researchers and help them mould future research to allow for, and make, improvements to services. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them.

They were a group of inspirational, forward thinking individuals who really do make a difference to future changes in mental health practice. SUGAR gave me a lot to think about in regards to the research I read and study, and how I could potentially use the experiences of service users to help me improve my future practice as a nurse.

So now my placement has ended and I have a few more assignments to complete before my training ends. I hope to take this experience with me and look forward to next phase of my journey as a mental health nurse.