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Tiffany Stewart, Clinical Studies Officer, NRS NDN with her Clinical Research Practitioner accreditation
26th July 2022
Scotland has its first accredited Clinical Research Practitioner (CRP), formally celebrating the valuable contribution of registration for health professionals and opening up further study opportunities.
Clinical Studies Officer Tiffany Stewart of the NHS Research Scotland Neuroprogressive and Dementia Network (NRS NDN) believes her achievement can now pave the way for significantly strengthening the skills base of the NRS workforce.
Being recognised as an accredited CRP will also help to expand Tiffany’s clinical activities in a patient-facing Clinical Studies Officer (CSO) role, while complementing the work that other healthcare professionals do in neuroprogressive and dementia research across Scotland. Multi-disciplinary roles are required to conduct effective research right now, she adds.
Tiffany said: “The accreditation is a real honour for me – it means so much on both a personal and professional level. I’m delighted to be recognised by the Professional Standard’s Authority (PSA) as I believe it to be an important milestone and of course I hope that many more of Scotland’s non-registered clinical research staff will follow in my footsteps and apply for registration as a CRP.”
CRPs have been formally identified as an occupational group in health and care in the UK by the UK PSA, the body that sets the standards for accredited registers of people who work in health and social care. Accredited registration for CRPs has been approved by the PSA as part of the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) Accredited Register.
Accreditation recognises the contributions that staff working in CRP roles make to health research working alongside a multi-disciplinary workforce in NRS.
Tiffany has worked in clinical research for 14 years since graduating in Psychology in 2008, and has thoroughly enjoyed her experience, particularly as part of NRS NDN.
She said: “I’m hugely passionate about how research can help patient outcomes – its value is vast and its benefits significant.
“I therefore welcome the accreditation for Scotland’s CRPs as I feel strongly that a diverse workforce of individuals from a variety of backgrounds is crucial in delivering the complex clinical trials that we see in research today. Fundamentally, it underlines the value of practitioners and of all research staff while representing an important opportunity to have my role recognised formally.
“I am very proud indeed of my role within NRS NDN, and to be the first CRP accreditation in Scotland only bolsters that.”
Tiffany Stewart, Clinical Studies Officer, NRS NDN
CRPs are a vital part of the research workforce – which continues to transform treatment in the NHS and the care we receive – and their numbers have increased in the UK in response to the expansion of research activity over the last few years.
Steve McSwiggan, Deputy Director of Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility in NHS Lothian said: “This is an exciting landmark for a key group of staff in Scotland with accreditation helping to formally recognise the skills and expertise of our diligent CRPs. Congratulations to Tiffany – an exceptionally talented researcher – for her endeavours and I look forward to seeing more colleagues grasp this opportunity.”
Staff eligible to apply for CRP accreditation are a diverse group. They must work in direct contact with patients, or other study participants in a clinical role. They will typically bring research knowledge and expertise to research delivery teams, in turn delivering safe, ethical, and high-quality clinical research care.
While CRPs – whose job titles can include Clinical Studies Officer, Research Practitioner, Clinical Trials Practitioner, and Clinical Trials Officer, among others – are already considered an important asset, accreditation will help to develop the professional identity of this group, recognise their expertise, and enable effective professional development, a strategic priority for growth of the research workforce.
Steve added: “Having recognised professional registration is encouraging for CRPs as there is now a route to progress in clinical research so they can maintain patient-facing roles and progress their careers. It is vitally important in terms of clinical safety and study integrity that staff working in patient facing roles are assessed for competency and will be professionally accountable for the research care they deliver.
“The CRP registry will help provide that reassurance to employers and the public that those delivering clinical care are trained to, and competent in, these high standards and that there is an avenue to challenge misconduct within this group of staff. It puts them on an equal footing with other health care professionals who are held professionally accountable for acts or omissions in their practice that fall below regulatory expectations. This can only be reassuring to those whom they care for clinically in research studies. It is encouraging to see colleagues like Tiffany producing a portfolio of evidence to support their application to go on the CRP registry and accepting full accountability for their professional practice.”