Matrons should be clear about what research and development (R&D) involve and support staff who would like to follow a clinical academic career through a research portfolio. The matron should support local R&D by advising on where to access information to begin research projects and how to access R&D training. Additional support will be available from the organisation’s R&D department, as well as from colleagues who have undertaken research themselves. Starting a journal club and joining the organisation’s library are also great ways of promoting research locally.
Matrons themselves as well as their staff can carry out research to advance evidence-based practice and implement it across the organisation. This could be part of a degree programme for professional development or a service improvement project, where the research element is undertaken in their organisation as part of their clinical role. The matron can also take part in research by expert multidisciplinary teams, including nurses, doctors, scientists, academics and allied health professionals.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) provides resources and programmes to support research in clinical practice, including Good Clinical Practice courses, fellowship programmes, funding opportunities and the NIHR Dissemination Centre resources. Mid-career health services researchers and practitioners can apply for the Commonwealth Fund’s Harkness Fellowships in healthcare policy and practice, which provide a unique opportunity for staff to work on a project of their choice abroad. The matron’s role in leading research and development should act as a catalyst for innovative practice and drive change, improving clinical outcomes for patients. Matrons and their staff can use the UK Clinical Research Network (UKCRN) to provide an infrastructure enabling high quality clinical research to take place in the NHS, so patients can benefit from new and better treatments.