I have recently applied for a clinical research nursing position for a Drug research company. Anybody who can give me an insight as to what clinical research nurses do exactly?
I am very interested in this field. I have previously worked as a pharmacy technician before becoming a nurse (and I know it is far from the pharmacist's job responsibilities, cause I basically count pills and put them in bottles), and I have loved knowing drugs and drug classes. And that job helped me through nursing school, especially pharmacology.
Dec 14, '17
I am currently a clinical research coordinator and a nursing student. I can comment a little on what it's like to be a research nurse because I work with them every day, but I work in a pediatric hospital so I'm sure your experience will differ a bit.
We see all types of research studies including those that have been written by the doctors (PIs) at our hospital, but you are more likely to work with drugs or devices that are trying to get FDA approval. Our nurses essentially manage studies. That means that they can be involved all the way from discussing feasibility (how the study will be run/budgeted, etc.) to close-out (when all data has been collected, verified, and submitted). A typical day for the nurses I work with might be 50% office work and 50% seeing the patient. The office work includes LOTS of paperwork collecting the data for the study and transferring that data to an online database; verifying that data points are within appropriate limits and getting physician approval if not; and submitting unusual findings to the regulatory bodies (IRB or Insitutional Review Board). The clinical portion is VERY structured around specific data points that have to be collected and done so in a certain way, so if a patient is getting an investigational drug infused, the patient arrives, they collect vitals and other assessment data, give the drug via IV and collect all additional assessment data required for the visit that day. Of course this can vary a lot depending on who you actually work for (doctor, research group, sponsor). We work very closely with our investigational pharmacy, but I don't think that the nurses have had to know a ton about the drugs because the pharmacists maintain and prepare it. The nurses really just need to know the drug in terms of educating the family and of course what potential side effects to look out for and how to give the drug (whether in clinic or at home), but I wouldn't say that takes up the majority of our nurses attention in this job.
The best thing that I have seen about research is: you get a balance between patient interaction and sitting at a computer; you can often flex hours depending on when you need to see patients; and you have the opportunity to develop long-term relationships with patients and families as they can be enrolled for years.
The most difficult things that I have observed: most hospital departments and families don't really understand research so it's always an up-hill battle advocating for it's importance; it can be very challenging trying to manage 5-10 different studies with all of the various duties you have in research; and it requires different skills than standard hospital nursing (from what I've seen thus far) so it could be a tough transition potentially to learn the new world of research regulations and language.
I hope that has helped in some way! I will be a research nurse when I graduate and I'm so pleased with my hospital and my department; I truly believe in what we do every day.