We’re Laura Dewhirst and Alice Gray, and as well as being an ST6 and ST4 in Palliative Medicine, we’re also the co-chairs of a trainee-led research collaborative called “WMCARES”. ‘What on earth does that stand for?” we hear you ask. Let us put you out of your misery. We are the West Midlands Collaboration Actioning Research in End of Life and Supportive Care and as a trainee in the West Midlands, you automatically get the opportunity to be part of this collaborative that aims to conduct and publish research that ultimately improves patient care.
Whilst it is a trainee-led collaborative, like all good research bodies, we do not work alone. We are also part of the UK Palliative Care Research Collaborative and receive significant support from local consultants, the NIHR CRN West Midlands and more recently the Palliative Care Research Hub run from the University of Birmingham, BRHUmB.
In practical terms, the trainees rotate through the various roles on the WMCARES committee that oversees and maintains momentum for numerous research projects that are being untaken by the registrar body in their various localities. At our monthly registrar training days, trainees get the opportunity to update on their projects, ask questions, and receive support to ensure that research projects can run successfully and that results can be published. The committee is also responsible for running the annual WMCARES Showcase Event that is a 1 day conference in collaboration with the CRN, NIHR and BRHUmB. The day consists of a mixture of oral presentations and posters demonstrating excellent research that is being undertaken locally, and boasts novel work not just from the Palliative Care registrars, but is also open to all members of the MDT, including students and practicing clinicians.
We are excited for this year’s showcase, taking place on Tuesday 10th October at the University of Birmingham’s Medical School. Dr Annie Pettifer, Assistant Professor in Adult Nursing at the University of Birmingham will be giving the keynote speech and we look forward to hearing about her experiences balancing ground breaking research with busy clinical work.
Neither of us would have ever imagined that we would have had the opportunity to be involved in such an exciting collaboration. Having come into Palliative Care with very little research experience, and assuming that, as busy clinicians we would never have time to get involved in research, we would never have imagined having the opportunity to lead on a showcase of West Midlands projects. But how wrong we were. Training in the West Midlands has demonstrated to us that research is not just for those in ivory academic towers, but is crucial for those of us who are on the ground, wrestling with the stresses and strains of the NHS, wanting to see the care given to our patients go from strength to strength.
If you want to hear more about WMCARES or are interested in attending the showcase, please feel free to get in touch with us at [email protected].