The literature contains few accounts of how access to a research site and participants in medical and nursing research is gained, and few efforts to synthesise the existing accounts. Therefore, this article has two main goals: (i) to synthesise our own account of access with others in the medical and nursing literature, and (ii) to derive from this synthesis considerations of access and implications for health professions education.
Based on field notes from a study conducted in an orthopaedic surgical section of a Norwegian university hospital, we provide an account of how access to the operating theatre (research site) and surgical teams (participants) was achieved. We synthesise the findings by comparing our account with existing accounts on access.
Our synthesis translates into a number of considerations related to the gaining of access to a research site and participants in medical and nursing research. These include conducting continuous negotiations to ensure the agreement and consent of participants and gatekeepers, and demonstrating transparency regarding the researcher's identity and the nature of the particular project and findings. These considerations can raise awareness and preparedness for the process of gaining access, which will benefit health professions education researchers planning or undertaking studies in educational or clinical settings. Health professions educators can also include the considerations in structured educational programmes, specifically methods courses, to instil similar awareness and preparedness in students.
We suggest that future medical and nursing research should emphasise a detailed, unvarnished documentation of the access process that incorporates existing accounts of the process.
Comment In: Med Educ. 2015 Feb;49(2):145-625626744