Research Rookie: Reflections on the Symposium

18 Sep

by Carolyn Gamble, Research User Group (RUG) member affiliated to General Practice theme

Carolyn G - Sept 14 blog photo

As a Research User Group (RUG) representative on the Patient and Public Involvement Evaluation Advisory Group (PEAG), I had the chance to co-present at the Greater Manchester PSTRC Research Symposium held in June about the internal and external evaluation process currently taking place in the Centre and my involvement as a RUG member.

I had the opportunity to work with Sally Giles, (Research Fellow, Core Theme) to formulate and present at the event. Even though I have experience in public speaking, presentations and delivering training – I was still very nervous! It was new material for me and a new audience too.

Once I arrived, I realised there were many familiar and friendly faces, researchers the RUG have been working with, and other RUG members in the audience, which enabled me to relax a little as I knew I was in a supportive environment.

The event was chaired by Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of The Royal College of General Practitioners and who was also the clinical director for patient safety at the former NHS Connecting for Health. She did a stellar job keeping the audience focused, and introducing all the speakers.

The researchers delivered presentations on their respective works (Presentations can be found here: and they elicited a range of reactions and questions from the audience – who were noticeably engaged in the subject of patient safety!

Sally and I delivered our presentation on the importance of evaluating the impact of PPI activity, some examples of our impact. We spoke about the internal evaluation activity undertaken by Sally and Jill Stocks, paired with the external evaluation by Jonathan Boote, the methods used to evaluate the impact and some of the interim findings.

I had the chance to present about my experience as a RUG member and my involvement in the PEAG. I spoke about the selection process we undertook when applying for the RUG, what my motivations for joining the project were, and how I found out about it in the first instance. I talked about my experiences of being affiliated with the GP theme, and highlighted some of the areas that we have been involved in, for example helping to undertake systematic reviews, and opportunities to gain new skills. I always feel encouraged to get involved, at whatever level suits me, and I feel I have excellent communication with my research theme leads and research assistants.

The keynote speaker, Richard Roberts (GP and Professor from the University of Wisconsin) wrapped up the day and spoke about patient safety in the US entitled “Reflections on Patient Safety: Shattered, or a one way Mirror?”

He was engaging and entertaining as a speaker. I subsequently discussed the day with Cara Afzal, the current Vice Chair of the RUG who also thought he was great and commented “He challenged many of the assumptions about patient safety, offering a fresh perspective.”

When the symposium ended, I realised how far we have come in the past year or so, and I felt a sense of belonging, and I felt proud to be a part of this important project.

“More important than knowing the disease is knowing the person with the dis-ease.”
– Richard Roberts (GP and Professor from the University of Wisconsin)

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