Jump to content

Research Nursing, my experience

Posted

Has 7 years experience.

Hello all,

Research nursing is a hidden gem that I don't feel like many nurses know about in general, or what we actually do. I see a lot of the same questions that get asked. I am going to try the best I can to help shed some light as I was in the same shoes just a few short months ago researching (pun intended) about research nursing and I am so glad I listened to my gut, applied, and got the position!

Quick background of me: 6 years nursing: 3.5 years general step-down bedside nursing, 2.5 years OR circulating nursing mixed in with some travel nursing while I was doing bedside. I left bedside because I was feeling the burn out and needed change. I wanted something completely new and went to OR. From there, I was not happy with the environment I would frequently find myself in (stress, negativity, surgeon/ and co-worker hostility and "strong personalities", favoritism, call, etc.). I was feeling the burn out AGAIN and needed a change to find my niche.

Fast forward on the job search for something new and I came across a position for research nursing in a teaching facility associated with a university. I researched as best I could, but I could only find generic broad answers about research nursing. I applied because what the heck, got an interview, followed by an offer, and acceptance.

Here's the good stuff you're wanting to know. I am still learning my position and much like anywhere else in nursing, your type of job (for example, my focus is on specific cancers in the oncology department), and where you work (what support teams/departments they have determine what type of duties/responsibilities you will have) will determine your day to day.

This is just an example of how things could be based on my own experience.

We do clinical trials for targeted cancers. I am one of many nurse coordinators in my department and we each have a specific cancer focus. Each focus has X amount of clinical trial studies being done and we are each responsible for our own. So will see our patients in clinic with the Oncologist, we will schedule the patients next appointments/labs/scans per protocol of the study, work with other departments to get pertinent information from the patient to pass on (think of it like this: the Oncologist and the nurse coordinator are the "face" of the study that the patient sees and we get the initial information. Then we forward the appropriate information to the other departments of the study such as regulatory, data, finance, etc etc.).

We screen patients to see if they are eligible for a study based off the protocol eligibility criteria. Our recruitment is primarily through the MD's and referrals from other MD's, so we are not responsible for recruitment of studies. I have read about other people mention they are also responsible for recruiting new patients, but that is not the case for me. We will also build the treatment plan based off the protocol and forward it to the next step for review. Essentially we build the initial skeleton of the treatment plan that gets passed on to get more in depth with each review until it finally gets to the PI (Principle Investigator which is the MD) for final review before implementation.

As you can see, there's not just one big main task we do. It's more frequent, smaller tasks we are responsible for, but for MANY patients. Keeping up with follow up appointments, paperwork, where each patient is in their treatment cycle and day of that cycle that determines what labs or scans or meds they are due for can get overwhelming if you don't stay on top of everything. Imagine this as a realistic example: you have 10 studies, and give or take 3-15 patients per study. That's A LOT of information, due dates, requirements, paperwork to keep track of. The key is staying extremely organized and planning ahead. So if that's something your good at and enjoy, this is probably right up your alley.

As far as the environment and all that fun stuff.

For my job, it's an office job. Business casual, M-F normal clinic hours (sometimes hours vary depending on your doctors clinic hours), no weekends, no holidays. If you stay late or come in early one day, you usually can leave or come in later at sometime later in the week that works with your schedule. The only stress I get, if any, is mostly just related to keeping everything straight and staying on top of everything. But even that, in the grand scheme of nursing stress, it's like a 2/10 tops at its worst. If I compare it to my OR days, it's like a -20/10.

Our MD's are extremely, EXTREMELY receptive to what we have to say and respect us as colleagues instead of lesser than. That is still taking me sometime to get used to; maybe I have PTSD from places I have worked in the past (LOL). My co-workers are extremely helpful, team orientated, and I think I have been told at least a billion times to not hesitate if I have any questions or need help because even if they don't know the answer, they will help me find out where to get it.

So to summarize, I am SO happy and thankful I took the plunge and made the switch. Is it for everyone? Nah, especially if you're in that "I NEED TO SAVE LIVES; I'LL PUSH THE EPI AND GIVE CPR ALL DAY' type of vibe. I was like that back in the day and if I tried to get into something like research nursing when I was wanting to do the life saving, adrenaline pumping hands on stuff, I probably wouldn't have been happy doing this. But being where I am today where I was very unhappy bordering on depression, burnt out and tired of the stress and feeling constantly like I was being pulled in 20 different directions every shift, I was mentally ready and excited for this transition.

So was it worth it for me? Heck yeah! Will the change be worth it for you? That's something you need to think about and what type of nursing you are looking for.

Good luck and I hope I was some help providing some knowledge into the world or research nursing!

CodyMcClanahan

Specializes in Clinical Research. Has 8 years experience.

Love this post! You are right so many avenues in Nursing and getting into research has been the best decision I ever made!

Cody 

C.mcclanahan@medpace.com

Clinical Research Associate Manager at Medpace

Alnitak7

Specializes in retired from healthcare. Has 25 years experience.

Would you recommend that someone with no nursing school and no experience in patient care and no training in nursing procedures go directly into research nursing?   Is there actually any research nursing degree program where students don't have to do any patient care?    I would tend to doubt this but just wondered if I have a misconception.   

Thanks for sharing your experience! Mine is much different, most likely due to the fact that I am in a small town and hospital. I have been a research coordinator for 2.5 years and am quite bored. 90% of the time I am searching for patients for studies--only to find that the PI could have recommended the study, but chose another medication. It has been frustrating. I only have 3 patients right now, and they are seen every 12 weeks! I can't find any patients for a heart study I have due to the requirements in the protocol. In addition, I have had to close to oncology studies due to not finding anyone for them. Alas, I have applied for another job. I wanted this to be a good fit, but it has been mostly keeping up with the regulatory side of things. I miss seeing patients! I wouldn't steer people away from this job. It has the potential to be great. I have learned a lot! But if looking into a position, make sure to ask a lot about how many studies there are and what your exact duties will be. (I also took a $10/hr pay cut because it was not in our union.)