Oxford Health nominee recognised as most engaged student – MEntal Health Student Hybrid Placement Project (MESH)

Oxford Health NHS FT has been piloting a new approach aimed at embedding clinical research into mental health student's nursing placements. 

Oxford Health nominee recognised as most engaged student – MEntal Health Student Hybrid Placement Project (MESH)

MEntal Health Student Hybrid Placement Project (MESH) is a national National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) Nursing and Midwifery led multisite pilot which aims to provide nursing students with research exposure and learning whilst they are undertaking their clinical placements. The initiative offers student nurses the opportunity to achieve tailored research objectives, become advocates for research and achieve research readiness within their clinical practice areas.

Buckinghamshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health services, Early Intervention Service, Oxford Older Adult Community Mental Health Team and Sandford Older Adult male inpatient areas participated in the pilot with year 2 pre-registration nurses. Nominations were made for the ‘most engaged MESH student’ across all four participating sites nationally, with Oxford Health’s candidate, Cynthia Okoli, winning the category.

cynthia okoli

Cynthia Okoli

Cynthia Okoli is undertaking an MSc in Mental Health Nursing at Oxford Brookes University. She joined MESH whilst on placement at Sandford inpatient ward and was supported to achieve specified clinical research goals with support from the NIHR Oxford Health Clinical Research Facility (CRF).

Cynthia’s experiences of clinical research prior to MESH were limited, and she had reservations about the initiative. However, during MESH, Cynthia described changes in her understanding and appreciation for research, with a ‘penny drop’ moment becoming evident in her final reflection meeting. Cynthia said that the experience had allowed her to revisit her understanding of research, which she had previously thought of as dry, academic and ‘all about writing’. However, she felt that her MESH placement experience had shown her that research within nursing should be viewed like any other part of clinical care, saying: “this is the same thing we are doing on the ward…just in a research setting”.

Cynthia’s reflections on learning about informed consent helped her to recognise that gaining skills in consent taking were transferable to clinical practice and were applicable to all aspects of caregiving. These insightful reflections highlight why it is so important that we expose nurses to clinical research early on in their career pathways.


Samuel Agyapong

Samuel Agyapong, Clinical Research Nurse at the NIHR Oxford Health CRF who supported the MESH placement, commented: ‘The MESH programme addresses a major strategic priority in nursing. It helps with supporting nurses to drive change in healthcare through high-quality, evidence-based practice, promotes their contributions to the development of important research questions, whilst also highlighting career opportunities in research. This is important in mental health research where nursing involvement can be particularly influential in clinical practice”.

Cynthia will join the NIHR Nursing and Midwifery table at the Student Nursing Times Awards ceremony in London this April to meet with colleagues and mentors who can support her in her future research journey.

We would like to congratulate Cynthia on her achievement.

To learn more about a career in research at Oxford Health, please see our vacancies page.

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Published: 9 April 2024