Report from Terry spokes
This year the CNRC employed three placement students to
assist with the research studies currently being undertaken.
One of my main roles during this placement was to contribute
to the co-ordination of a research study entitled SB202026/096.
This study investigated the efficacy of a compound for the
treatment of cognitive deficits in patients with schizophrenia.
It is a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised study,
which specifically investigates the efficacy and safety
of the drug for the treatment of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia
and schizoaffective disorder. The drug is used as an add-on
therapy to antipsychotics for 12 consecutive weeks.
I was involved with the patients from the first day they
visit the centre for their screening day, all the way through
until their last visit 5 months later, providing they completed
the study as planned. During this period I was taught how
to administer cognitive tests, such as CogTest, CNS Vital
Signs, CVLT and CDR. Each patient was also required to complete
a health and safety check on each visit which included checking
blood pressure, a breath test, ECG, blood and urine sampling.
I was instructed how to complete all of these procedures
and also attended a one-day phlebotomy course. By the end
of the study I was proficient in blood and urine sample
analyses, which incorporates a variety of techniques to
examine patient samples.
When my 8 month placement contract was completed, I was
offered the position of Clinical Study Co-ordinator. Working
in a small, but close team of researchers I was jointly
responsible for the co-ordination of two clinical studies.
The studies TC-1734-112-CRD-001 and TC-1734-112-CRD-002
investigated the effect of a medication on cognitive function,
with special focus on memory. The two sets of participants
had previously visited the centre to undergo a memory assessment
and their results had been indicative of Age Associated
Memory Impairment or Mild Cognitive Impairment respectively.
I utilised the patient information collected in each volunteers
case report form during these memory assessments to compile
a database of volunteer variables.
The co-ordination of two studies running simultaneously
was an extremely demanding and responsibility laden role,
which often involved 13 hour days! The two groups of volunteers
were required to visit the centre once a week for a period
of 13 weeks. During these visits the participants were subjected
to numerous cognitive performance measuring tasks and a
full health and safety check-up, both of which I was trained
to administer. As in the previous study, I had daily and
in-depth patient contact and was responsible for information
of a personal nature. I was also nominated to be the primary
point of contact for another memory based study, but unfortunately
this study did not commence at the planned time.
In addition to the cognitive testing, a huge part of the
student’s role is to assist with the administrative
demands of this study and those associated with general
office management. This includes recording extensive patient
details and ensuring patient files are fully completed.
Each patient has two folders of information specific to
them and it is imperative to ensure these folders are complete
and accurate. Much of the student’s time will be dedicated
to the monitoring of these folders and correction of inaccuracies
in them, as indicated by the study monitor. It is also part
of the role to monitor patient enrolment, withdrawals and
to supply regular updates of these figures to the GSK study
Another of the most important components of this role is
liasing with patients, GP’s, and a range of company’s
from photocopying or taxi firms to blood collection and
analysis clinics. This frequently involves international
calls and a great deal of organisation, where further phone
calls are often necessary. This administration is often
very important as the analysis of human samples is limited
by specific time constraints. For example, one of the student’s
duties may be to arrange the same day transport of blood
samples and the international couriering of PK samples to
America in a 3-day window.
The best aspect of this placement is that the students are
given the opportunity to experience frequent and in-depth
patient contact. During my placement, I have been given
the opportunity to spend time alone with patients suffering
from cognitive impairments such as Schizophrenia, Mild Cognitive
Impairment, Age Associated Memory Impairment and Alzheimer’s
disease. This patient contact is very interesting and will
allow the student to learn a great deal regarding personal
contact and develop essential skills. It is imperative to
be constantly professional when involved in patient cases
where information may be of a confidential and sensitive
nature. However, it is also important to balance this professional
manner with an approachable and caring demeanour in order
to ease the patient and resolve any queries s/he may have.
This placement also allows the student to continually learn
new skills and techniques. I have been taught how to perform
a number of methods of data acquisition including: the CVLT,
Cogtest battery, CDR battery, Central Flicker Fusion, Pre-Pulse
Inhibition, Phlebotomy and MMSE. In addition to these the
student will become competent in healthcare training procedures,
including ECG acquisition, blood pressure and pulse acquisition,
basic urine analysis, alcohol breath testing, serum and
urine pregnancy testing, certified first aid training and
certified automated defibrillation.
The bad points of this placement are more related to the
role of a student in a work experience placement and not
to the centre itself. As I’m sure is the case in nearly
all student positions, when there is a slightly menial or
unfavourable task the buck will inevitably stop with the
student. This means that the student will occasionally be
required to endure tasks that s/he may feel are not directly
related to their desired career, but are part and parcel
of the majority of positions. During this placement I have
completed my fair share of these tasks including working
on a mail-shot that required over 2000 envelopes to be packed
and sent out over only a two-day period.
7 Twisleton Court, Priory
Kent DA1 2EN
1. From the A2 you need to take the exit
Bexley/Dartford turn off and then head towards Dartford
2. You are now in Old Bexley Lane, continue
straight, over the mini roundabout into Shepherds Lane.
3. You then need to follow the road all
the way to the end until you come to a mini roundabout,
you then need to turn right into West Hill, Priory Hill
is the second turning on your left.
4. Twisleton Court is on your immediate
left and No 7 is directly in front of you. There are visitor’s
car parking spaces available right in front of the building.
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