What makes a successful PLAN Project idea?

PLAN projects have evolved in ambition over the last few generations, from prospective “snap” audits of practice towards larger scale, observational research studies. However we always evaluate each project by its own merits and are equally receptive to audit, quality improvement or research ideas being submitted. Each project is selected following a democratic voting process by audience members at the PLAN Annual General Meeting. To help you get started with a project idea that you might wish to run through the PLAN network, we’ve provided some hints and tips to focus your inspiration:

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Multi-centre by design

PLAN is the largest regional anaesthetic trainee network in the UK, with a coverage extending to over 40 hospitals in the Greater London area. The best project ideas take advantage of this network to allow the simultaneous collection of data across multiple healthcare centres. By designing a project that is intrinsically suitable to running in this format, you stand the greatest chance of your project being selected. This means keeping your intervention for each site relatively straightforward; complex procedures or measurements are significantly more difficult to manage when administered remotely and on a large scale. Try to think about ideas, solutions and problems that share common ground at several hospitals, rather than being unique to a single site. As trainees we are uniquely well placed to make these judgments - moving between hospitals as part of our training rotations gives us insight into recurring problems and exposure to a variety of solutions.

Addresses a relevant and topical issue

Our goal with each project is always to make a contribution towards understanding of an important issue in perioperative care. A valid scientific underpinning for a topic is appealing and pulls favour when it comes to submitting your project manuscript to journal editors for publication. That is not to say that slightly more niche ideas won’t be considered; a niche problem in multiple hospitals still speaks in volume. For an overview of national trends in research directions, consider reviewing the James Lind Alliance Anaesthesia Priority Setting Partnership page on the NIAA website:

Feasible data collection

We already have established systems for secure multi-centre data sharing, including the use of secure, encrypted web data entry portal servers (using REDCap software). However, it is vital that the original evaluation data collection is achievable on a wide scale. Collecting data on very rare patient cohorts or only in very specific circumstances is not impossible, but requires careful consideration to ensure robust, repeatable methods of data collection. “Snap” data collection is popular, but not the only way to investigate a clinical problem. Longitudinal sampling methods needs to be simple and sustainable.

A committed and dynamic project lead!

Leading a PLAN project can be an involving, but highly rewarding, responsibility. Although you will receive considerable advice, support and assistance throughout the entire course of your project, you still need to dedicate time and energy to fulfilling the project lead role. The PLAN committee will facilitate with every stage of your project: from development, to conduct to publication. But we want you to retain ownership of your idea, alongside the satisfaction and recognition from turning the idea into a completed project.

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