I was speaking at a Nutrition Nurse's Conference this week about practitioner research and was struck by the things that,as a professional group, seems to be exercising nutrition nurses across the UK. Judging from the comments of other speakers and some delegate, what seems to be bothering them are things like, lack of basic assessment of nutritional status, lack of exploration of common sense approaches before calling the experts and poor documentation. If you take out the word 'nutrition' and replace it with the words 'pain management',what you have is a nice description of all of the clinical issues that are exercising the nations pain teams. All of which got me to thinking....when I talk to practitioners about research I always highlight that there are probably loads of already published studies in their speciality that they could learn from and suggest that, rather than re-inventing the wheel with their own small local study, they should be collaborating with other in the field to produce robust research that has decent sample sizes and therefore the chance of making a useful impact upon patient care. Maybe though, what I should be doing is encouraging them to contact other services within and external to their own speciality to start looking at areas of commonality. Nutrition nurses and acute pain practitioners could liaise to explore why suitable assessments are not carried out and to workshop educational techniques that would benefit bother disciplines. This would have the advantage that both sets of practitioners would develop tool and techniques that would benefit their specific patients but they would also get a working insight into another speciality and both would benefit from having their service subject to scrutiny by a knowledgeable outsider.
May be it is time for unversity research courses to promote cross-speciality research with the same enthusaism it espouses cross-disciplianry research. In terms of making an impact on aptient care it could well be the way to go.