Breaking into Nursing Research

  1. I noticed that there have been a couple recent postings asking for information and I thought I would respond.

    The best way to get started in research if you don't have a BSN is to seek a position as a research nurse or research coordinator with a large University/academic type setting. In order to get a position with Pharmaceutical research you will need some type of Bachelor of Science degree. Pharm Co. positions require extensive travel but excellent pay and benefits.

    I have been a clinical research coordinator for a year and a half..I will be going for my Certification in another few months. You don't always have to have experience to break into the field if you start with a University setting. Let me know if you have more questions and I will try to answer them.
    Last edit by BeachNurse on Feb 2, '02
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    About BeachNurse

    Joined: Jun '01; Posts: 1,681; Likes: 4
    Clinical Endpoint Coordinator
    Specialty: 12 year(s) of experience in Research,Peds,Neuro,Psych,


  3. by   mattsmom81
    Hi Beach!

    I have been looking into research careers and see there are companies that will train nurses to do research for a fee. Have you had any experiences with any of these nurses and do you have an opinion? Is it worthwhile to try this training without a BSN? Would a BAbe an option or is that BSN a must? Thanks for your responses to research questions!
  4. by   BeachNurse
    Hi, Mattsmom...personally I have never met anyone who paid for research training, and I do feel it is unnecessary. A B.S. is the degree that the Pharmaceutical companies require, but it doesn't HAVE to be a BSN. If you can afford it, and if the company is promising (in writing) a hefty salary, then I suppose paid training MAY be worth a try. Good Luck!
  5. by   mattsmom81
    Thank you for your reply--good food for thought.
  6. by   researchrabbit
    If you want to start as a clinical coordinator, though, you don't even need a nursing degree (I started out as a coordinator and THEN went for the degree). Not every Pharm. requires a bachelor's degree, either; one of my friends is an LPN and got her Big Girl Job in San Diego with a Pharm firm 2 years ago (combination of personality and experience!).

    The only research training anyone I know has paid for has been the training to pass the certification exams. I have not been certified, although I think I'll want to do that eventually.

    What research nursing takes is obsessive organizational skills. We refer to this as "She who has the most paper wins".

    You should also be able to work without supervision. It helps if your writing skills are a little better than average.

    You also have to keep your MDs or DOs in line because they probably won't remember the protocol and may want to dump what little work they do on you . We have a number of free standing clinics here in OKC that do research as well as the University groups.

    Freestanding research doesn't have as much ethical oversight as I would wish, and I could tell you some horror stories. They are not all bad, but their main purpose is research for profit. Period.
    At some Universities, the MDs who do the research don't get paid to do it (not true of my current, but true of my former). They do it to get the funds to fund their own research and grant writers.
  7. by   ceculia
    I am really interested in doing research in the african american community with public health issues that plague my community. I was interested in infant mortality, violence, asthma and things of that nature that plague particularily young african americans. I am currently going for my FNP at UIC but I work in pediatrics and really would like to look into research as well. Do you know how I could get into doing research in areas that I have mentioned above?
  8. by   RedS
    Originally posted by BeachNurse

    The best way to get started in research if you don't have a BSN is to seek a position as a research nurse or research coordinator with a large University/academic type setting. In order to get a position with Pharmaceutical research you will need some type of Bachelor of Science degree. Pharm Co. positions require extensive travel but excellent pay and benefits.

    I was just curious...can you break into the Pharm. Co.s with an MSN (and a prior B.A.) or is the B.S. still required. I will be starting a Masters Entry Program soon and wanted to "forecast" a bit. It's wonderful to look at all the options available for the future.
    Thanks for any input.
  9. by   renerian
    Research in our metro area is very hard to break into. They want masters degree level professionals. I tried and was told this by many people in my area.

  10. by   nicudaynurse
    Hello research nurses,

    I've just recentley become interested in research. My ultimate goal is to work in neonatal research.

    I currently work in pediatric neurology and I work with quite a few research nurses and their education ranges from BSN to PhD.

    I have NICU experience and still work PRN in the NICU. What kind of opportunities are there in neonatal research?

  11. by   jeannet83
    Hi, everyone! I have also done pharmaceutical research coordinating at hospitals and universities in the past.

    I think we need to clarify that there are two different types of "nursing research".

    One type is to work as a research nurse or research coordinator for a university, hospital, or private research companies. These jobs involve coordinating the research. Sometimes the research are studies from pharmaceutical studies, sometimes they are research that a MD or Ph.D has received grants for and has made up his/her own research protocol. You don't actually do the research yourself or do the statistics or get to write any of the papers related to the research studies (rarely). A typical day would involve reading over a research protocol, recruiting research subjects, meeting with research subjects, collecting data, drawing blood samples and processing them. Alot of paperwork and alot of office visits with patients. I totally agree that you have to be very independent and also keep your investigator (usually a MD) informed. I found the most enjoyable aspect of the job was the independent nature of the job and also the repoire (?sp) you form with the patients. After nine years though, I was tired of always having paperwork to do sitting on my desk and decided I missed the clinical environment of a hospital unit.

    The other type on nursing research is the kind you do yourself. Usually one begins this in a MSN program by doing a thesis. A "nurse researcher" is often a Ph.D who does her own research on different areas that impact the nursing profession. There are ways to apply for grant money to fund your research. Alot of these type of nursing researchers are professors also at universities.

    Hope this is helpful for those interested in research!
  12. by   Scis
    I am pursuing my BSN and this semester I am taking Nursing Research and statistics for the first time. My first classes were the last two nights and I am intimidated already! Math just produces chills up my spine! I can't imagine going into research only because of the anxiety it causes me. I am currently a certified emergency nurse, and after ten years of this "hard labor", I want to do something different after I finish the BSN.
    Any encouraging words/tips, etc.?
  13. by   doobiedo
    There are many different 'research' type job classifications. I work in clinical research department in data management sector for major pharma company. Great benefits, no travel and they are paying for me to finish my BSN that I started many years ago. Hope to advance to other department once degree is under my belt.
    Best way to break into pharma's in my area of country is through agency.
    Rarely are persons hired "off the street" unfortunately except for the PhDs and MD's.
  14. by   Wren

    Trust me, you do more math in your ER job than you will ever do in many research jobs! Most academically oriented research jobs will have you evaluating and consenting patients, collecting study related data, documenting in a database or on a CRF (case report forms). The statistics involved are complex and generally performed by someone hired by the sponsor or a local statistican. I've never heard of a research nurse who is also responsible for major number crunching!

    Research nursing jobs are perfect for organized, detail oriented folks who don't mind a ton of paperwork and who can ensure that a protocol is followed exactly each and every time you see a patient.

    Good luck!