Research Nurse career interviews: 5 mins with Anne Croudass, Lead Research Nurse at Cancer Research UK

Posted on by Kelly Gleason in Professional Development

Anne Croudass, Lead Research Nurse, Cancer Research UK

Where were you brought up?
On the Isle of Wight
Which subject did you like most at school?
What was your first job?
I was a Saturday girl in Woolworths
What was your first job in healthcare?
As a student nurse. Although when I was in the 6th form, I was a volunteer at Ryde hospital on a male orthopaedic ward. We were fondly referred to as “pinkies” because we wore pink checked jaycloths, sorry, uniforms!
What was your first job in research?
As an asthma and allergy research nurse
Why did you apply for that job?
I had moved back to Southampton and met a previous colleague who had started work in that department, and she told me they were recruiting someone for a year to cover maternity leave. At the time, I was a ward sister, and was unsure where my career was heading. So I applied for the job thinking it would give me some time to decide what I wanted to do next, whilst giving me an extra area of expertise. That was 14 years ago!
What job do you do now?
I am the lead research nurse at Cancer research UK
What do you like most about your job?
The variety, and the people I get to meet.
What do you like least about your job?
That’s a tough one, I am one of those annoying people who seems to genuinely love what they do. Although I do get frustrated by seemingly pointless meetings.
What keeps you awake at night?
My cat licking my face!
What gets you up in the morning?
See above! But seriously, the fact that I am off to do a job that I love, with people who are committed to making a difference.
What might a typical day in your job look like?
My jobs is so varied, it is hard to pick a typical day. But most days include catching up with email correspondence first thing, then maybe working on a presentation that I need to do for a fund raising committee, or a speech to give to some supporters at an event. Increasingly, I am asked to provide health awareness sessions, so can often be found looking for new and exciting ways of communicating our healthy lifestyle messages. As a mentor for our patient reps, I might spend some time talking to them about funding applications. And I always try to make time to catch up with my colleagues, and keep up to date with breaking news in the field of cancer research.
What is the one thing you feel is most misunderstood about your job?
People seem to think that research nurses do nothing other than drink coffee!
What one thing would you change about healthcare research?
I would love to see it more embedded in routine NHS care. Research as the norm, not the exception.
What one piece of advice would you give someone starting their career in healthcare?
Remember why you are there and don’t shut your mind to possibilities. Question how and why things are done, and make sure that patients and their families are at the centre of everything you do.
If you had not worked in healthcare, what would you have done and why?
I love music, and play several musical instruments, so I think I would have done something musical – perhaps a clarinet teacher.
What do you think the role of the research nurse will look like in 20 years time?
You mean nurses won’t have been replaces by faceless autobots? In my halcyon vision of research embedded within the NHS, I see research nurses as fully integrated multi-disciplinary team members where their skill and expertise is recognised and valued. Of course, the mountains of paper will have been replaced with hand held devices, and patients will be more responsible for completing their own SAEs/concomitant meds for example, giving research nurses more time to act as autonomous practitioners, responsible for taking decisions about the care of their patients.

Anne Croudass is a Lead Research Nurse at Cancer Research UK. She manages, mentors, supports and inspires Cancer Research UK Senior Nurses at 18 cancer centres across the UK.  Her team are always grateful for her enthusiasm for the contribution of research nurses to the research agenda in the UK but also for her positivity and humour that seem to put the challenges of clinical research into perspective and the work a little bit more fun.

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