A career of care

10 May 2023
In celebration of International Nurses Day, we spoke to Nurse and UQCCR Clinical Trials Coordinator Vicki Allen about her profession, and what's kept her in the job for over three decades.  

What is your role and what does it generally entail?
My position as the Clinical Coordinator for the Clinical Trials Support Unit (CTSU) within the UQ Centre for Clinical Research (UQCCR) comprises many varied roles. In a nutshell, as the Clinical Coordinator of the CTSU I am responsible for the management, daily operations, and expansion of the Clinical Space which is located on Level 3 at UQCCR. On any given day I can be wearing several hats ranging from Management and Administration, to Clinical Support, Training and OH&S. A particular focus of my role involves strategically aligning the use of the physical clinical infrastructure for UQCCR researchers as well as promoting new use of the clinical space by UQ, external groups or clinicians, and in particular clinician researchers from the Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital (RBWH).

How did you get into the clinical trial space?
Essentially, it was by accident. After many years of nursing in the clinical setting, I took time out to start a family. As I was nearly the end of my maternity leave, one of the consultants I had previously worked with contacted me for assistance following the unexpected departure of his Clinical Trials Nurse.  And so my career in clinical trials started from there. I never expected the role to be a long-term career change, however some thirty-three years later, I know I made the correct decision in accepting the challenge.

What do you love about being a nurse? 
I love being a nurse for so many reasons — but I think mostly because it has brought me into the lives of people whom I otherwise wouldn’t have met, and this has been a great privilege for me.  I also love the collegial, collaborative nature of nursing - no matter where you work or what type of nursing work you do, you are part of a team promoting health, taking care of the ill, and working towards the prevention of illness and or disease. It all contributes to making a difference. 

What do you love about your work at CCR?
UQCCR is uniquely situated within the Herston Health Precinct which enables the research community to work alongside leading health professionals and clinicians to facilitate and improve health through research. What I love about working in this dynamic environment, first and foremost, is the people -  the sense of community where everybody is there for each other, everyone shares the same vision and is dedicated to the mission.  I also love the variability of my job; it is always changing, always evolving, every day is different and brings opportunities to collaborate with likeminded, dedicated health professionals. Working within the Clinical Trials research environment at UQCCR gives me a unique opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives. It really is the best of both worlds – I draw on my nurse’s sensibilities, skills and experience every day while working with my clinical research colleagues towards improving the quality of life for people across the globe, and this makes a career in this field extremely rewarding.

Centre Director, Professor Jason Roberts, praised Vicki at the recent International Nurses Day morning tea held in UQCCR. “Vicki covers so many different aspects of the CTSU, providing management, administration, clinical support, and training. She epitomises the collaborative and collegial nature of nursing. She reminds us that nurses are central to all clinical research. I cannot think of any clinical studies that have succeeded without nurses playing important supporting or leadership roles. Vicki, and all the nurses who work here, help make UQCCR what it is today”.

International Nurses Day at UQCCR
International Nurses Day morning tea held in UQCCR