Prof Robert Crouch is Consultant Nurse in the Emergency Department at University Hospital Southampton (UHS) and Honorary Professor of Emergency Care at the University of Southampton.
His current research focuses on major trauma; his previous research focused on clinical decision making, including research into triage and telephone consultation. His work was used in the development of NHS Direct – a precursor to the current NHS 111 service.
Developing a clinical academic career
Robert started his clinical academic career in the 1990s, before the clinical academic career path was clearly defined for nurses. This made pursuing his career combining clinical practice and research challenging.
He completed his PhD part-time whilst working in in his clinical role, and later had to work out where and how to successfully apply for funding to continue his research.
Following his PhD, he became a clinical academic at Kings College London, splitting his time evenly between his role as a charge nurse and his research into how to triage patients most effectively in emergency departments and later on telephone consultations. His research in Southampton has focussed on emergency care and major trauma.
“My career has involved balancing working clinically in emergency care as well as conducting research, both as a chief investigator and also as principal investigator on numerous NIHR funded studies,” he explains.
“It’s been quite a challenging journey as there was no traditional pathway or trajectory to follow– it’s one that I had to create before the pathways were available, as they are now.”
In 2003, in recognition of his services to nursing, in particular face to face and telephone triage, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Supporting the next generation of researchers
As his career continues, Robert is focusing more on his research, and hopes to secure funding for new research into pre-hospital care.
He is also using the knowledge and experience he has gained to support others who are just starting out in their research careers. Through SoAR he is engaged in mentoring others in emergency care, enabling him to support them to develop their own clinical academic careers.
As well as finding a good mentor and group of people to collaborate with, he suggests that anyone considering a career in research must be very motivated to do it. He says the fundamental requirement is an enquiring mind – a desire to answer clinical questions that others might just let pass by. He also says that you need to be kind to yourself and remember it is a marathon not a sprint!
“I’ve been involved in supporting and mentoring new and up-and-coming clinical academics, and it’s great that UHS is committed to that as a pathway, and to facilitating individuals’ growth,” he says.
“Throughout my career I’ve had really good mentors, clinically and academically, and I think that’s a really important part of investing in new researchers to develop the next generation of clinical academics, to provide networks of support, mentorship and coaching to help them.”