Author: Robert Hirst / Codes: / Published: 06/08/2020


Hello everyone,

I am Robert Hirst, the TERN Fellow for the next two years. Over the past two years, I have been delighted to see the network blossom from concepts of improving access to research opportunity, demystifying clinical research and delivering practice-changing research into its current form. Our network has recruited over 10,000 patients to NIHR portfolio studies, secured competitive funding for three projects (with two more on the way) and currently have four papers in peer review or press. 

I know you will all join me in offering sincere thanks to our outgoing fellow Tom Roberts, for his manifold efforts and great leadership during the last few years. We would also like to formally wish him good luck with his PhD and hope that the experience and opportunities created through the TERN fellowship will help support him over the next few years. Don’t forget to use that university Topman discount Tom…

I suspect it won’t have escaped your notice that we are fighting a global pandemic. We had originally planned to roll out the Subarachnoid Haemorrhage in the Emergency Department (SHED) study back in April, but after much deliberation we took the decision to postpone the launch. In light of what followed, we think this decision was the right one. However, we still wanted to use the network and your enthusiasm for research to create opportunity. 

As such, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Assessment (CERA) study was developed alongside anaesthetic and intensive care trainee networks as the first cross-specialty, collaborative trainee network project with HRA approval and NIHR portfolio adoption (to our knowledge). Over 5000 of you provided data towards this study which went from idea to recruitment within 6 days. There are currently two papers in peer review and one accepted for publication from this project. The results may surprise you…

The future for TERN is bright, due almost entirely to your efforts, enthusiasm and collaboration. 

TERN up the volume

We are trying to build upon these prior successes and have much planned for the next 2 years. We have already secured competitive grant funding for at least two projects this academic year. First, we are planning to restart SHED from October 2020. SHED is a study examining the workup of subarachnoid haemorrhage in the ED. I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil the content of next months blogpost, but previous entries detail the hypothesis behind this exciting work. It is a three-month project with over 110 recruiting sites, and should be our biggest project yet, with a recruitment target of 9000 participants.  

After this, we are planning a shorter project in March examining pathways for investigating ACS and chest pain, creatively titled ACS:ED. This one should be a great project examining a very common presentation and focusing on departmental efficiency, patient experience and pathways. This project was selected by one of our regional trainee representatives, which is how all of our projects are chosen. Speaking of which… 

We will also be trying to decide on future TERN projects over the next 12 months. We are regularly invited to participate in large studies and have recently received invitations from EUSEM to engage with international research. However, as a trainee-centred network we are mainly interested in answering the clinical questions most important to you. Over the next few months, alongside SHED, we are proposing to run a Delphi study to determine the research questions most important to emergency medicine trainees and decide how we spend our time developing future TERN projects. The study itself should be an interesting process of collaboration and discussion, as well as generating some great research ideas. One of the upcoming TERN blogposts will be on the process of running a Delphi study, so you can find out more about the set-up and running of this process.

The Wider TERNiverse

TERN is not just about large-scale multi-site network research. This was the central starting point and the aspect that gets the most attention and engagement, but we have already seen it develop into much more. Over the next few years, we want to expand upon the network functions of TERN and encourage collaboration, mentoring, and developing our trainees and researchers. With this in mind, we are working on a few projects to develop the strength and utility of the network. 

Developing local, regional and international links

We have been e-mailing up and down the country asking our reps about local and regional research networks, NIHR groups and interested parties so we can get to know the research landscape. Do you have a network but haven’t been e-mailed by me? Are you trying to build a local research network but not having much luck? Get in touch and we’ll see how we can help. 

In a similar vein, I am proud to introduce a recent successful interview adjunct, the  TERN Map. A labour of love as much as anything else, this map hopes to help you find your local participating TERN hospital, SHED representative and regional rep(s). Some of these details are to be confirmed due to August changeover, so if you see something you think needs changing, just get in touch. I have not included emails for confidentiality, but if you want to link up with anyone but don’t have contact details,  email me at tern@rcem.ac.uk and we’ll see if they are happy to be linked in.

TERN Website

One of the earlier big changes will hopefully be a new, dedicated TERN project website (designed by the team behind RCEMLearning). We will not be leaving RCEMLearning; this new space will simply allow us a repository to post protocols, study information, presentations, publications etc. and centralise our activity for all upcoming projects. By providing this space and resources, we hope to continue our journey of demystification and make life as easy as we can for our brilliant investigators and all those involved. 

Posts for you

In addition to the academic projects, we also get lots of people saying they really enjoy the excellent posts that have been curated by Gov & Charlotte in their role with TERN. Whilst Charlotte is heading for pastures new, we still plan on continuing this. Articles on different research methodologies, experiences from researchers at different stages of their career, updates on TERN projects and much more. TERN wants to provide you with increased exposure to research and enrich your lives. If you have an idea for an article about anything involving that, send us an email. 

We think the TERN way of research will reduce barriers to research delivery, help our trainees develop as researchers and improve the lives of our members. We hope youll continue with us on the journey or join up along the way. 

Robert Hirst



Join our mailing list (The image is courtesy of William Warby). 

Leave a Reply