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Speech and Language Therapy duo become Research Champions

Released: 05.10.18

Two Plymouth Marjon University Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) practitioners have been made Research Champions by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT).

Dr Sarah Griffiths, a Senior Lecturer on the SLT course, and Rynette Hartmann, an SLT student, have been made Research Champions as a part of the RCSLT scheme. Research is core to everyday practice for SLTs. Research champions support the RCSLT’s mission to facilitate career-long engagement with the latest research evidence, ensuring that clinical practice is always evidence-based.

Rynette is the first ever student Research Champion and will work with Sarah as part of the RCSLT Research Champion network to enable the SLT profession to translate evidence to practice at a faster rate. Current research shows that it can take up to 17 years before a new evidence-based intervention is fully embraced and implemented in everyday healthcare practice. As members of a University, Sarah and Rynette are ideally placed to promote the research agenda.

“I’m ecstatic to have been picked out by the RCSLT for this role as I feel it means that my involvement in the research scene has been acknowledged,” said Rynette, who is entering her third year of study at Marjon.

“I didn’t apply to RCSLT to be a Research Champion, but they contacted me after I had written an article review for the RCSLT professional magazine, Bulletin. They asked if I wanted to get involved in getting more people to look critically at SLT research.”

Engaging with the evidence-base is already an essential aspect of training to be an SLT. Rynette and Sarah are aiming to encourage active dissemination of new evidence amongst students and staff, identifying gaps in knowledge that would lend themselves to research projects and sharing good practice around implementing research findings on student placements.

The scheme was set up by the RCSLT to promote evidence-based practice, signpost SLTs to sources of support and facilitate discussions around the challenges of translating theory to practice.

“There’s a recognised gap between research taking place and being able to apply the findings t in real-world clinical settings,” said Sarah.

“This scheme is about opening up the discussion on how easy or not it is to apply the evidence to practice. It’s also about encouraging clinicians and students to be part of the next generation of SLT researchers. It’s great that Rynette has been identified as a student who can collaborate with that whole process. Now she has become a Research Champion, there’s no reason why other students can’t do it.”

Rynette added: “I think the RCSLT identified that if you can get students involved in research earlier then it’s better in the long term for the profession.”

One of the first projects Sarah and Rynette have set up is a Speech and Language Journal Club to encourage research discussion at the University. Students and staff will meet to discuss and appraise the very latest research and explore together how research might be used in practice.

“The unique thing about the journal club is that while it will involve both staff and students, it will be led by students,” said Sarah.

“Staff and students will be on an equal footing as ‘researchers’ rather than taking part in a teaching session. I’m really looking forward to be able to demonstrate that we’re all learners together.”

The first lunchtime meeting will be on 9 October and the group will meet regularly to read, discuss and disseminate research available in the field of speech and language.

Rynette added: “We’re encouraging both those who are already confident with appraising journal papers and those who are a bit afraid to come along and see what it’s all about.

“The idea is proving popular with students as a means to positively impact their studies and their future careers.”

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