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Clinical research fellow, Dr Hannah Rank, talks about caring for Covid-19 patients and being involved in the Valneva vaccine trial.

Friday, 25 June, 2021
Clinical research fellow, Dr Hannah Rank, talks about caring for Covid-19 patients and being involved in the Valneva vaccine trial.

I’m currently working as a clinical research fellow as part of the research and development team at North Tyneside General Hospital. I have done my two foundation doctor years with Northumbria and I have now taken this year out of training.

This year I had planned to work for a charity based in Uganda however due to the Covid-19 pandemic I was unable to go, so instead I worked on ward 7, one of the respiratory wards at NSECH, and a bit in A&E. I then started this research job in January.

The changes the A&E department went through in early days of the pandemic were massive and things changed on a day to day basis. It was a very unnerving at the time but the team were amazing and pulled together – we all got each other through, we kept each other right as information and advice evolved.

We had been kept in A&E for an extra four months, when normally we would have rotated jobs. Because of this we became a tight knit team, especially in the green zone which became where we looked after the Covid-19 patients together, helping and supporting each other so much. I couldn’t have done what I did without the support of some amazing people – I will always remember them!

Covid-19 is making planning very difficult which makes it hard to career plan and know what steps to take next. My biggest challenge over the last year has been uncertainty and having to change my plans. I would like to have the chance to work as a doctor abroad, in particular in Eastern Africa.

During my medical degree I took some time out in Uganda and Malawi and I’ve been wanting to go back since. I don’t want to miss my opportunity to go to Africa before going in to a full-time training programme.

I’ve been working mostly on a vaccine trial and in Covid-19 research which has ended up being a great learning experience and something I otherwise wouldn’t have thought of doing.

At the moment I’m working on the Valneva vaccine trial which is a study looking at the safety and efficacy of a new Covid-19 vaccine compared to the Oxford Astra Zeneca jab. It is amazing and a privilege to be involved in urgent public health research and something that’s so current and important in tackling the pandemic.

I work with some great colleagues and in research the patients are very motivated and interested. They are all participating for their own unique reasons which I love hearing about. It is very rewarding giving patients an opportunity to be involved in research and empowering them to make that decision, particularly for conditions with limited treatment options.

It has been great getting an insight into the research that is going on at Northumbria and all the work the research and development team do which you may not know about when working clinically on the wards.

I wouldn’t have this role if it wasn’t for the pandemic and Covid-19 has been really important in relation to putting a spot light on research and highlighting how very important it is.