Lack of BSN education on Research Nursing careers

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    Clinical research nursing/study coordinating is a scope of practice for nurses who are working in a wide-variety of clinical research studies (studies involving patients). Some of those studies are clinical trials of drugs, devices or biologics. Study coordinators manage patients in the studies, the protocols and the sites. They have a broad- multi-disciplinary scope of practice that requires leadership and clinical skills. When I moved from the ICU-bedside to take an 8-5 clinical research position at a major university- I was looked upon by my former instructors as having "left nursing". Nothing was further from the truth. I found myself having to operate on a highly clinical level (assessing patients for studies- requiring intensive clinical and ethical decision-making activities) and then managing those patients in clinical trials. I also had to work with a variety of individuals from a wide-variety of backgrounds- statisticians, physicians, radiation officers, psychologists, financial officers, grant officers, IRB administrators. After a time, I moved up with my profession and worked in a coordinating center- which enabled me to expand my management and clinical skills to work with a team that included NIH program officers, FDA officials, MDs and pharmaceutical sponsors- in which I advocated for future enrolled patients in the writing of protocols and development of case report forms- and manual of procedures for studies. My role was used as an important member of the team that brought REALITY into the scope of study development. (The Nightingale approach!!!). Study coordinators have been nursing leaders in transdisiciplinary activities. So often they are perceived as "clipboard holders"- and that is not the case.

    This is a call to include "clinical trial process and study coordinating" in undergraduate research courses for nurses! I suggest that most study coordinators never got this information at the nursing school level. Let's call for this to change!

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  2. 4 Comments...

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    While I sympathize with what you're saying, my initial thought on reading your post is that there are lots of comparatively rare specialties for which nursing students aren't prepared in school -- but, nowadays, students are getting such minimal preparation in the necessary, universal basics of nursing that I really can't see justifying spending time in school to prepare students for a area in which so few nurses (comparatively) will ever work. To me, this is one of those "need to know vs. nice to know" kind of questions (a concept that we discussed a lot in curriculum meetings in the last BSN program in which I taught ...). Sure, it would be great to prepare entry-level nursing students for every kind of nursing position they may ever encounter, but how realistic is that? My undergrad research course only covered the bare minimum of reading and understanding a research study. As I recall, there wasn't a lot of "extra" content in the course (or room for extra content). What should we jettison from the current basic nursing research courses to include content in "clinical trial process and study coordinating," beyond perhaps making students aware that that is one career option that may possibly be available to them?

    So many nursing curricula have already cut so far back on areas like psych, OB, peds, etc. that I really can't see trying to work another specialty in. Is this content (clinical trial process and study coordinating) necessary for safe entry into practice?? Is this a "core competency" in nursing? I'm not really seeing how.

    My own specialty is psych nursing, and it pains me greatly to see how little preparation in psych nursing students are getting these days, esp. when it is one of the few areas of nursing that applies across all domains (no matter what area of nursing you work in, you're going to be dealing with people who are angry, afraid, anxious, in crisis -- you're going to be needing good therapeutic communication skills to be an effective nurse, and you're going to be dealing with folks with psych illnesses (psych patients get sick, have babies, need surgery, etc., too ) -- yet that seems to be one area schools always feel they can cut back on ... We all have our "pet" area that we feel strongly deserves greater emphasis in nursing school, but there's no way it can all be crammed into the existing ADN or BSN framework.

    Have you considered contacting nursing schools in your area and offering to come speak about your job? I know from teaching in ADN and BSN programs that instructors are often eager to have people who are enthusiastic about what they do come talk to students about different, less common areas of nursing. That would be something you could do personally to at least increase awareness and provide some basic information (I've done that quite a bit with my specialty, child psych nursing, and have found students to be v. receptive and appreciative).
    Skeletor likes this.
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    I do agree with you actually. I teach in a nursing school. I do think that it is important content; however, as you suggest, it would not warrant a large unit- but rather an insertion or reference at least about the role and importance. The workforce for clinical research nursing is expanding and most are employed and trained "seat of pants" style- like other areas, as you say. My area of teaching is "Clinical Research Management" in the grad levels- but would welcome a short 15 minutes to introduce the concept in a course.
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    Quote from ClinicalResearchNurs
    My area of teaching is "Clinical Research Management" in the grad levels- but would welcome a short 15 minutes to introduce the concept in a course.
    I'm sure that faculty teaching undergrad courses at your institution or other nursing programs in your area would be delighted to have you speak to their students if you just indicated you were available to do so (I know that I would be, if I were teaching at this time), and students seem to always be v. interested in hearing from individuals who have less familiar, obvious nursing careers.
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    can you expand more about the clinical research management graduate teaching you do clinicalresearchnurs?

    i agree with you that reserach nursing isn't taught in nursing school. at my nursing school it was a quick 3 hour course that really didn't show this career. i'm a clinical nurse reserach specialist (new to field, first did an internship, reserach assistant, and now got promoted to this position). i really enjoy research and am considering a higher degree in an msn in clinical reserach management. i'm interested in hearing your thoughts on a degree like this to advance in the field.


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