Image of Oladayo Bifarin, Research Effectiveness Lead

Oladayo’s story – Making research part of what we all do

Oladayo Bifarin is the Research Effectiveness Lead at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and part of the team at the Mental Health Research for Innovation Centre (M-RIC). Oladayo is also a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at Liverpool John Moores University and was recently awarded a coveted place on the NIHR senior research leadership programme for nursing. In this article, he discusses his family history in nursing, his passion for increasing research capability amongst the workforce and why M-RIC is so important for people to get care that is precise, proven and personal.

My background has shaped the person I am today. I was born in Nigeria, in a town called Ile-Ife. I am the first of four sons and I grew up in a close-knit family.

I always wanted to work with people and do something that makes a difference. I started off in industrial chemistry, studying at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria and moved to England afterwards.

My plan was to do a master’s degree in forensic chemistry but I started working in a nursing home and it was there that I became interested in nursing. My mum, grandmother and several aunties were nurses in Nigeria so I was aware of nursing as a career but I hadn’t seen many men in that role.

Having a chemistry background meant that I only dealt with facts. It was watching a community nurse at the nursing home assess one of the patients using the Beck Anxiety tool that helped me realise that nursing can be objective and scientific.

The other motivation for me to move into nursing was seeing what ethnic minority communities were going through with their mental health after migrating to a different country and having to start from scratch.

I saw a family member struggle with her mental health and get knocked back every time she tried to get support because available services weren’t inclusive. An early intervention would have made a world of difference for her.

People who immigrate don’t have the words to get into our system so we can support them. I could tell you more stories about individuals who struggle and don’t even know how to start seeking for help.

I went to Edge Hill University to do an accelerated masters in mental health nursing, which I completed with distinction and published almost all my assignments.

I give credit to Dr David Stonehouse who marked my first assignment and gave me impressive feedback in terms of things I hadn’t seen in myself, like my writing ability. He encouraged me to keep publishing my work.

In my studies I was taught the ideal approach but then when I went into clinical practice, I saw what actually happened. They call this the theory-practice gap and it was at this point I began to focus on documenting my journey and publishing as I went along. This was instrumental in my development as a clinical academic today.

I worked as a healthcare assistant in Mersey Care and when I qualified, got a job at Mersey Care medium secure division. Upon qualification, I fortunately crossed paths with another person who was influential in my development – my preceptor Diane Rice. Diane told me to be true to myself and gave me reassurance that I was doing the right things; for instance, when a charge nurse told me my clinical notetaking was “too long”, she told her to let me write in my own way. These little things matter and they go a long way in supporting people to find their own voice.

I became aware that I needed to broaden my skill set as I discovered that my best bet to thrive would be a combination of the two worlds of clinical practice and academia. I started a PhD, studying full time and reducing my work hours so I could fit everything in.

My preceptor Diane supported me to work part time on a flexible basis and over the next three and a half years I published four papers.

Nursing colleagues don’t tend to see themselves as researchers. Yet every day we assess patients, we plan their care, we implement interventions, we reevaluate interventions – in all of this we are being curious, we are researching.


I want to increase research capability among our workforce, especially nurses and allied health professionals who are under-represented in research; while making sure we don’t lose sight of understanding and responding to existing health inequalities in clinical pathways.

When I finished my PhD, I started work as a clinical academic. I like being able to deliver sessions in university and see students in clinical settings, putting the lessons into practice, which gives us the opportunity to have theory-practice conversations.

We would come together and say this is the policy, this is the empirical evidence, this is what we said in lectures, this could be a good opportunity for you to have those conversations with patients – testing the theory-based knowledge. It’s how we learn to apply knowledge in practice, so the patient feels well supported.

I’m showing that research is part of what we do, we are translating research into practice.

My previous role as Quality Improvement Partner led nicely to my current position as Research Effectiveness Lead which is about giving the workforce a sense of belonging when it comes to research, particularly for nurses and allied health professionals.

It’s been a huge privilege from starting in Mersey Care and seeing the gap clearly but not having the skill set to articulate what the needs are; to meeting people who supported me along the journey and developing the skills and expertise I have today. Now, I can articulate the need for us to embed research into clinical practice – for everyone, not just particular groups of staff; and how we make it happen is my current focus.

Hopefully, staff will see me or another nurse doing it so they will think, anyone can take part in research, regardless of their staff band.

I am keen to create an ecosystem of practitioners who are keen to support research delivery; to engage in conversations around research; and who see what they do on a daily basis in the context of research.

But we need more staff to go for internships, more staff to go for prestigious awards such as the NIHR pre-doctoral fellowship or places on the NIHR/Health Education England Bridging Scheme. All of this starts with conversations; my role is going out there and meeting people who have an interest in whatever capacity. If you want to recruit onto a study that’s fine; if you want to lead in the future that’s fine – and we can help you find out how to start.

A big part of my role is normalising these conversations and defeating stresses around research.

I am privileged to teach colleagues from Mersey Care who come to Liverpool John Moores University advanced clinical practice training. I tell them that regardless of your grade on the research related module, let’s talk about how we can take the idea forward.

I am part of the Mental Health Research for Innovation Centre (M-RIC) jointly delivered by Mersey Care and the University of Liverpool and our aim is to improve mental health services for everyone, not just for those in crisis, it’s wherever we are on the continuum of wellness.

Essentially, we want to make sure that people who need our services, get them in a timely fashion from the right people. For that to happen we need empirical evidence which will come through M-RIC; the clinical/operational expertise of the Mersey Care workforce; and to work side by side with our patients and the public. When all of that intersects, people will get care that is precise, proven and personal.

Follow Oladayo on X @Bifarin