YNM2020 – Share your story: Michelle Hepburn – Paediatric Clinical Research Practitioner

Hello, my name is Michelle Hepburn and I’m a Paediatric Clinical Research Practitioner at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH).

Michelle Hepburn Clinical Research Practitioner

Michelle Hepburn Clinical Research Practitioner

In 2013 I started working at the NIHR Clinical Research Facility at RMCH as a Healthcare Support Worker. During this time the role of Clinical Research Practitioner was created and I was encouraged by my manager and colleagues to apply for the position.

It was an excellent opportunity to allow me to further my knowledge about research and to allow me to develop my skills within a paediatric setting, having previously only worked within adult care.

My current role as a Clinical Research Practitioner commenced in 2014. It involves working closely with children and their families who are taking part in early experimental phase clinical trials.

I independently manage my own clinical trials involving children who have Achondroplasia, a rare genetic condition that causes dwarfism, and Multiple Osteochondromas, another genetic condition which causes tumours to grow on the surface of the bones.

I also work as a research buddy on the first Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) study for Autism. Here I work closely with my colleagues as part of a Research Multi-disciplinary Team, providing support to each other and communicating effectively to allow us to deliver excellent patient care.

Furthermore, I am responsible for scheduling participant visits, data entry, maintenance of site files and patient folders. I perform patient clinical visits, including vital signs, anthropometric measurements, venepuncture, ECGs, and urinalysis. I also organise study monitoring visits and both report and follow up on Adverse Events and Serious Adverse Events.

My role offers me exposure to many specialities, and since starting I’ve attended many courses to allow me to gain invaluable skills and knowledge.

Over the last few weeks I have been working on the ESCAPE COVID-19 study. This has involved recruiting 1200 MFT staff to attend for a monthly blood test for 6 months.

There were challenges in relation to timeframes for the study set up, training and recruitment, but I overcame these, and we were able to meet the target.

We were also able to adapt to regular changes in PPE guidance whilst working with a large participant group. My role has been an integral part of the delivery of this study, and I feel extremely proud to be part of it.

What I enjoy most about being involved in research is that I can provide a high standard of care to my patients and be involved in delivering treatment for rare diseases that could potentially improve their quality of life.

Whilst working on an Autism study, I have found it extremely challenging at times but also very rewarding, especially when a parent wrote to me about the difference I had made to their child:

“Michelle has really made a difference to our research journey; she always sees the child not just the diagnosis. She has always communicated effectively with him and us as parents, making us feel comfortable and secure.”

If you’re considering a career in nursing and midwifery, becoming a clinical research practitioner is an incredibly rewarding role, and research is an exceptionally worthwhile area to work within.