A return of the NIHR GOSH BRC academic training weekend

25 Apr 2023, 9 a.m.

A speaker in orange trousers and a red top, speaks animatedly to an audience listening and taking notes.

In late November 2022, 51 early career researchers from 17 NHS trusts and Higher Education Institutions across the UK came together to attend the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre (GOSH BRC) academic training weekend.

This was the first time in two years the event was able to return to a residential weekend.

The event brought together early career researchers (ECRs) working in child health from a wide variety of specialties and this year's attendees included doctors, Allied Health Professionals, nurses, pharmacists, a dentist, surgeons and non-clinical researchers. The weekend is part of a programme of training opportunities that the NIHR GOSH BRC offers to the wider paediatric research community and aimed to support attendees as they transition to independent researchers.

ECRs were central to the weekend, not just in their attendance but also in shaping the programme of the event. The organising team listened carefully to what ECRs felt they most needed to further their careers and shaped the event to focus on the broader skills that are required to move into independent research.

The two days of talks and breakout sessions covered topics including how to build a good team, write a good fellowship application and an introduction to the principles of patient and public involvement and engagement.

An opportunity to hear from senior researchers

The weekend event allowed ECRs to hear from senior scientists about their careers as well as the vital tools and skills they have developed that helped them on their journeys.

I thought that the variety and experience of speakers was excellent. I thought that the most valuable thing was learning that failure is a large part of people's research careers and that this is quite normal!

A man wearing a grey jumper and black thick rimmed glasses sits in an audience, holding a portable microphone as he asks a question to a speaker.

As well as formal talks, all attendees were able to join “breakout groups” throughout the weekend, giving them an opportunity to not only discuss key issues and topics but also to speak directly to the senior researchers about their experiences.

Really helpful having different experienced leaders from differing backgrounds visit each group for the breakouts, providing different viewpoints, experiences, outlooks, journeys and advice.

Dr Ian Simcock, Clinical Academic Radiographer

A chance to network and reflect

The breakout sessions and informal time at the two-day event also gave attendees from across professional backgrounds and career stages a chance to network with each other, learn from everyone’s experience and discuss any common challenges. As the event was open to researchers nationwide, it also provided researchers with the opportunity to connect across institutions – building their understanding of research across the country and giving them the chance to make new connections and collaborations.

I feel very fortunate to have been involved and got so much from the process, networking and taught sessions were brilliant

Lizzie Bichard, GOSH Paediatric Intensive Care Unit Nurse and PhD candidate

The event also allowed researchers to take a break from their normal working routine, speak to researchers in different fields and spend some time thinking about their future careers.

Researchers sit around a coffee table, discussing and taking notes. A women in blue jeans and a green jumper, with square glasses speaks to the group

For me the event helped to 'defog' my understanding of where I am in my career and where I want to go next. I had the outline concept but couldn’t really see how it all pieced together or how the next bit should look and how I would get there. The meeting gave me confidence and reassurance that I am on the right track for me, and that I am already on my way to progressing my career.

An ECR who attended the weekend event

The ECRs who attended the weekend event also hope to continue to strengthen their new community. They aim to reconnect on Zoom within a year to discuss how they have taken what they learnt back into their everyday research and further share new experiences to help each other as their careers progress.

The NIHR GOSH BRC team would like to thank all the speakers and attendees from the weekend, for making the event such a huge success.

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