by Susan Patchett
For this edition of the QUOD Newsletter I was delighted to be able to catch up with Maggie Stevens, ODT Specialist Nurse for Research at NHS Blood and Transplant. Maggie is responsible for the operational and service delivery for the great number of research studies that NHS Blood and Transplant operate and support alongside QUOD.
Hers is a varied role and involves setting up Specialist Nurse training, carrying out risk assessments for new studies, and helping teams draw up action plans and standard operating procedures (SOPS) ensuring that they comply with their ethics approval, regulatory requirements, and are fit for purpose for Specialist Nurses in Organ Donation (SNODs) to follow safely and effectively.
When I asked Maggie if she could describe a typical day she told me that there was no such thing. One day she can be going through a risk assessment with the ODT Research Team and Quality Assurance for a large clinical trial and identifying potential operational, regulatory and safety risks. Other days she will be auditing consent records to be sure all has been carried out to the letter. She meets regularly with research leads in all the regions, ensuring they are up to date with studies that are being set up and also cascading training that they will undertake with their teams.
Problem solving is a large part of her role and can range from SNODs raising issues if they aren’t comfortable with a particular process, to a shortage of boxes.
Maggie works very closely with QUOD and helps us iron out issues that may arise in terms of sample collection, logistics, and other operational problems. She forms the crucial link between QUOD and the SNODs. After QUOD’s activity was paused during the first wave of COVID-19, she helped us with the mammoth task of restarting operations, updating SNOD training and finding ways around getting QUOD boxes delivered when so many personnel were working remotely between on-call shifts.
The elements of her job that she likes the most are the people and the research and innovation – ‘There is always wonderful new research going on such as the SIGNET trial and I find contributing to this work is really satisfying.’ She also said that her job is made very special by her colleagues, Hannah Tolley (OTDT Research Project Manager) and Emma Lawson (OTDT Innovation and Research Lead)). They work closely as a team linking in with other stakeholders to ensure that ODT research is facilitated safely and effectively. They also sit together alongside QUOD’s National Management Team.
I asked her if nursing was the career she had envisaged. She laughed and said when she decided on nursing she was actually working at an agricultural college in Chelmsford, driving tractors and fruit picking.
Like all of us through the pandemic, Maggie has had to decamp her office to her home but she said she was one of many NHSBT staff who couldn’t bear sitting still when there were those working themselves to the bone on the front line so, she got herself deployed back to her original A&E department for six weeks. She loved being back with her former colleagues. I asked if she felt worried during that stint and she said ‘you just do what you have to do.’
Maggie Stevens is not all about work and loves an adventure in the great outdoors. She has climbed Ben Nevis with colleagues for organ donation week and spent a couple of months travelling alone around Alaska where she saw whales and bears and met some wild and wonderful people that she will never forget. She is also a fan of rock music and has tickets to see the Foo Fighters very soon!