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>>>Getting started in research

Getting started in research

Research was not on my radar in the beginning, as my clinical role kept me patient focused. Yet, the more I delved into research, the more a whole new world of learning and fascination opened up for me.

Getting started can be daunting. Thankfully, I didn’t feel put off even though I knew very little about research. I applied for and secured a research grant from the QRGP which got me started and provided ongoing motivation to adhere to timeframes and seek research assistance as needed. Fortunately, I quickly forged strong connections which have been of tremendous value during my research journey.

It’s who you know…

My research area of interest was women birthing in rural and remote units throughout Queensland. My Nurse Unit Manager put me in contact with a fabulous midwife and research officer. They then put me in touch with an equally fantastic statistician with the local university, both of whom who have been co-authors in my research project. People know people who know people and that was very helpful when you’re new to the research space. Before long, I had connected with a whole range of health and research professionals; statisticians, researchers, academics, PhD students and interested Rural Generalists. Everyone I came in contact with gave generously and selflessly in their support and advice.

It takes time…

I have learned foremost on this journey that research takes a long (long!) time. It feels like a marathon! Perhaps the longest stage was planning the research project. You must consider budgeting, timelines, establishing the project team, along with obtaining local governance and ethics approval. It takes time to get some results back in a meaningful format. It takes time to interpret the results, and then more time to write up the results and review the paper. To get an idea of the timeline, I started my research using data collected retrospectively. 18 months later, here I am, having just finished the final review stages and submitted my research to a journal for consideration. I’m hoping it will be published in the next 12 months.

Spread the word…

I gained fascinating insights and satisfaction when it came to analysing my results. To think that I’m contributing to the future of rural health is rewarding. I recently presented my findings at the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland (RDAQ) conference. Being in a position to share my finding with colleagues was a significant milestone.  Being organised and submitting abstracts early helped me take advantage of opportunities to promote my research findings at conferences.

Final thoughts…

It has been a fantastic experience to connect with colleagues with a similar sense of purpose; those who enjoy lifelong learning and share a commitment to rural health. I was naïve to think I could get my research project completed while on maternity leave, but I am so glad to have started on this side project. I have enjoyed it so much that I plan to continue doing research by launching into a part time PhD, alongside my clinical role. Research has been such a refreshing and invigorating experience.

Dr Debbie Tennet | Senior Medical Officer, Gympie Hospital

Sep 13th 2019| Blog, |