nurse researcher

  1. Can anyone provide info on being a nurse researcher? What are the qualifications and finding a job in this field? Any feedback would be helpful and appreicated.
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   Wren
    Angela,

    Are you asking about working as a research nurse (study coordinator) for someone else's project or doing research yourself?

    I have a couple of ideas if you are interested in working as a clinical research coordinator or research nurse. First, it helps if you live close to a medical school because there is a ton of research going on there. Check the web site and see what is posted. Most of the investigators want someone with experience but with the nursing shortage, some are willing to train you. Once you have worked on a study or two you won't have any difficulty moving up the ladder.

    If you want to get some experience to bolster your resume, call the Medical school IRB (Institution Review Board) and get a list of the research related classes they offer and see if a non-employee can take them. It would be helpful if you could state that you had taking continuing ed courses in "Protecting Human Subjects" "Good Clinical Practices" and any HIPAA classes. If they won't let you take classes, try to find some on the web that you can take for a modest fee.

    I belong to the Association for Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) and you might check their website for more info. There is also a Research nurse forum and you might try posting there.

    If you don't live near a medical school you will need to find a medical practice that is doing a lot of research or a business that specializes in doing research and that is usually pharmaceutical related. Those are tougher to find but keep an eye on the classifieds. Some newspapers run study recruitment ads and you can note who is doing the research and send them a letter/resume although that's probably going to have a low yield.

    You didn't ask but I'll tell you anyway that the down side (at least for me) is that you aren't taking care of patients anymore. In some research jobs you may rarely even see the patients. I have worked in research for about 5 years and plan to go back to direct care at the completion of a project that I am working on. It is a good career choice though as the money is good, the hours and working conditions are usually great, the physical stress is minimal .

    Good luck and PM me if you have other questions.
  4. by   jjjoy
    How much does your clinical nursing experience play into work as a clinical research coordinator? Is it at all possible to get into that without acute care experience as a nurse? I ask because I really enjoyed research in school and would love to work in that but I wasn't so good in clinical. I got by in school, but not through a hospital preceptorship. In contrast, I stood out as a student research assistant and enjoyed work with an outpatient research project. So I'm trying to find a niche for myself. Thanks for any input.
  5. by   Wren
    jjjoy, it totally depends on the project and the protocol. Some are very clinical, for instance there are nurses who work in oncology research who are administering complex chemo protocols or nurses in critical care who working on cutting-edge technology.

    But, there are probably more nurses whose research job involves interviewing the patient about many subjects including collecting data on adverse reactions to medications, quality of life, symptoms, almost anything. They may have some clinic time but since protocols are generally very specific you would undoubtedly receive a great deal of training on whatever intervention is being tested. Generally research clinics are conducted at a more leisurely pace too than treatment clinics.

    The coordinator of a project is often more involed in insuring that the extensive regulatory regulations are followed and the documentation prepared and submitted. That alone can be a full time job if you are working on a large project or coordinating several.

    Other research nurses work as "monitors" for clinical trials and they are employed by the sponsor of the trial and they visit sites to ensure that the study is being conducted according to good clinical practices and the protocol. Good job if you are organized, detail oriented and don't mind traveling. You will never see a patient.

    I have oversimplied these jobs and not mentioned many others. Medical research coordination is a pretty complex field with a lot of opportunity for specialization into your particular area of interest or talent. Check out the acrp website for more info.

    Good luck
  6. by   angelaRN2b
    Wren,
    Thanks for your input, I have research coordinator experience and love it- but would like to be more involved.
    Can you work as a nurse researcher with an RN degree fresh out of school???
    Thanks so much
  7. by   Wren
    Angela, you probably CAN find work just out of school but it might take a bit more interviewing. The real question though is if you want to do that. There may be a day when you want to do more direct nursing care and that would be harder to do if you don't have a clinical foundation to fall back on. One alternative is to pick an area that you interests you, pediatrics, orthopedics, etc and work a year or so doing patient care and then try to find a research job in that field. You can build on your body of knowledge and have more clinical skills.

    But, there are some people who go to nursing school and know that they are not cut out for, or interested in, bedside nursing. We need nurses in all areas of health care and if you are sure that is what you want, then go for it. Good luck!
  8. by   jjjoy
    Thanks for your feedback. I want to get into research as soon as possible, but I'm currently unemployed and am afraid it will take too long to find a job I really want. Any suggestions of what kind of work I could pursue meanwhile that might help my future in research? So far, I've put in several applications as a research assistant at a local research-intensive university but it seems there's lots of competition for those positions. I just started considering applying for non-research positions at the university figuring at least it would get my foot in the door. Thanks again for your thoughtful replies!
  9. by   Wren
    jjjoy,

    At the University that I work at, the research assistants are paid very poorly, about $25,000 or so annually and it MIGHT get you entre into a department but it could also be a dead end road. I'd be very careful about accepting a non-nursing job. Nurses who interview other nurses for hiring purposes (been there, done that) are sometimes a little worried about nurses who accept non-nursing jobs, especially just out of school. That is unless you can really explain it as part of a career path and being a research assistant might fall into that category.

    That said, we also have clinical research coordinators who are not nurses so my theory probably doesn't hold water!

    So what do you do until you land your job? Tell everyone that you know what kind of job you are looking for and be nice to everyone, you never know where the referral will come from. I got my last job because a secretary in one department told a secretary in my department that they were looking for a research nurse and asked if she knew any nurses who were looking. She told me and I interviewed and got the job before it ever got posted.

    See if there is a local group of research nurses at your university, there is at mine. If so, call the group organizer and ask if you can sit in on one of their meetings and hopefully hear about positions and pick up tips. This may be an informal group and tough to find but if you can get access to a list of employees and titles, trying calling a few research nurses and ask about a group. You may have to make a few calls because I find even though there are a lot of research nurses working here, only a small percentage participate in the group. I get calls occasionally from nurses like you with inquiries of one sort or the other and I never mind.

    You might join a local chapter of a specialty that interests you and again, try to network yourself into a job.

    In the interval though I'd get a clinical job of some type, even if you are working per diem or part time. It will give you a few skills, expose you to more people to network with and pay the bills until you find your dream job!


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