Research Nurse Colin Bergin: a day in the life

Marking the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, 2020 has been named the ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwife’ by the World Health Organization (WHO). While many of us will think of a hospital ward-based caregiver when asked to picture a nurse, they actually undertake a much wider variety of roles than you may know. In this series of blogs, we meet the professionals working around the clock to support clinical trials – the SRMRC research nurses. Today, we meet Research Nurse Colin Bergin who told us about his day…

Colin Bergin6:50 AM: I start my day with a brew, of course. While I’m having that, I look at my emails to see what’s been happening during the night. To do this, I review the “Trauma Take”, screening for any patients who are eligible for our studies or have been recruited by on-call nurses and doctors in the Emergency Department (ED).

7:00 AM: The nursing team have handover. This is where we divvy up the different jobs between us. Some of us will take blood sample from patients, others will visit the newly-admitted patients who are eligible for our clinical trials, and then someone will be in charge of drug administration.

7:30 AM: We disperse to the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham site and take bloods for our trials such as SIFTI, ADaPT and Golden Hour. We also give the drugs needed for ADaPT and see potential PRISM, Flo-Ela, WHITE or Hands (HaPPeN) trial patients. After this, we review trial patients on the ITU (Intensive Care Unit), which we do on a daily basis and review those on the ward as needed (usually 2-3 times a week).

10:00 AM: I come back to the office – and have a much-needed brew!!!

10:30 AM: After a break, I answer my emails. I usually have around 40 or more to answer a day. I also do some admin for the nursing team in this time; sorting out the off-duty and recording leave, etc.

11:00 AM (and throughout the rest of the day): I screen patients via PICS (Prescribing Information and Communications System) to identify potential trial participants. With those identified, we take a closer look and if they are suitable for a trial, we contact the PI (Primary Investigator) or delegated doctor and see if we are good to go. Usually we will need to speak to the patient’s family if we can’t speak with the patient themselves (which unfortunately does often happen with trauma-related trials) and then with the doctor.

You might also like: Trauma is not nine to five – and neither are our research nurses

All day (until 19.30): We as a team will receive trauma alerts (but these can obviously be at any time during the day) and go to the ED. This may involve spending hours in ED, depending on the day. Once we identify that a patient might be eligible for one of our trials we gain consent as soon as possible to see if the patient or the patient’s family is happy for them to be a part of the trial. I also collect patient data and enter it on to the eCRF (case report form).

Afternoons: I usually attend meetings in the afternoon. These might include giving or listening to a presentation or maybe we’ll discuss the current status of a few trials.

That’s timing for you, just received a trauma call! Hopefully this gives an insight in to what I do (there may be more tea than was recorded!)


The NIHR SRMRC’s aim is to transfer new emergency medicine practices developed in the military frontline to the NHS to improve outcomes for all patients. In addition, the SRMRC takes findings from the science lab to the patient’s bedside to improve emergency medicine practice in the military and civilian setting. Since the Centre’s start in 2011, civilian and military scientists have worked alongside civilian and military clinicians in a variety of specialist areas to improve the care and treatment of trauma patients.

The Centre is jointly funded by the NIHR – the nation’s largest funder of health and care research – and the Ministry of Defence, the British government department in charge of putting into place the Government’s defence policy and the headquarters of the British Armed Forces. Additional ‘matched’ funding is also received from BHP founder members the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Birmingham.