A day in the life of...

… a Research Assistant.

The main trial is now underway and we are all very busy at IMPROVE. No two days are the same. Our research assistant Nat shares what her day looks like.

9am – I get into the office and check my emails. Thankfully there aren’t too many this morning and I reply to the urgent queries.

9:30am – I ring one of my intervention sites. We currently have two research assistants at IMPROVE, me (Nat) in the south and Jess in the north. We are each the ‘link’ person to the intervention sites in our area and we like to check in regularly to see what support we can give our sites. Unfortunately, clinics at this site are very busy this morning so I’ll have to call back later!

9:45am – All of our PR-buddy volunteers need to complete DBS checks to take part in the trial. One of the PR-buddies is struggling to fill in the online form so I give her a ring and talk her through the process. Once her DBS check comes back she will be ready to start supporting patients. Her enthusiasm brightens up a very wet and grey Wednesday morning.

10:30am – Today I am visiting one of my sites for a PR-buddy monthly support meeting. The trial’s administrator, Alison, is coming with me to see how it all works so she can come to meetings if I’m ever ill (or on holiday!).

11:30am – We make it to the PR-buddy meeting right on time but slightly damp from the rain. PR-buddy monthly meetings are important opportunities for our PR-buddies to talk about how their volunteering is going and discuss (confidentially) any problems they haven’t been able to solve on their own. The meetings give me a chance to retrieve any data they have collected in their volunteer phones and working folders. It’s fantastic to hear all the positive experiences our volunteers are having and how much they are enjoying supporting people through PR.

2pm – We get back to the office and have a quick lunch – I nearly always eat my leftovers from dinner the night before.

2:30pm – Following the PR-buddy meeting I need to complete some admin tasks. I upload the phone recordings to our database, and write a short report of the meeting in the field diary. It’s important that I do this as soon as possible after the meeting, so I remember the important details and don’t get confused between my sites.

3pm – Back to DBS checks. Once the check comes back for a PR-buddy we will sometimes need to hold a review meeting to discuss any issues it raises. Two of these DBS checks have come back over lunch so I get in touch with the PI at the relevant site to arrange the meetings. After this I try to clear my backlog of non-urgent emails, there are some unusual queries but those are often the most fun to tackle!

4pm – For the last hour of my day I get some writing done. There are a few different things for me to work on, pieces for our website and sections of academic papers, so I get my writing done in between other jobs.

5pm – Home time! Tomorrow could be more of the same or completely unexpected challenges.


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