What is a Research Nurse?

Research nurses study, develop, and implement medicines, technology, and medical procedures into healthcare practice.

Accordingly, these specialists advance healthcare by using evidence-based research to improve the quality of nursing care.

Their research also helps them educate healthcare facilities to improve medical practices and design effective treatment plans.

The data that nurses collect leads to more beneficial medical approaches and positive results in patient healthcare.

What Do Research Nurses Do?

There are numerous responsibilities research nurses manage daily.

For instance, they research new medical equipment, drugs, diseases, treatments, and medical practices.

They also study publications, clinical trials, medical journals, case studies, and other data.

Research nurses use the data they collect and analyze to implement new healthcare practices and procedures.

Sometimes research nurses actively execute self-run clinical trials and case studies to gather patient data.

The collected data helps them find cures for diseases, identify issues with medical practices, technology, and medications and test the safety of new procedures.

When analyzing clinical trials and tests, research nurses analyze the results of healthy individuals and unhealthy patients.

It enables them to gain a broader range of data points to ensure all areas are covered.

Studies may entail using healthy volunteers to test a drug’s overall safety or possible side effects.

It may also involve analyzing unhealthy patients to determine whether a new procedure improves their health and reduce their ailments.

The information research nurses gather from these studies helps them improve the overall healthcare of patients.

In addition, it enables them to find better cures or alternatives for common diseases.

It includes diseases like cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis, influenza, HIV, depression, and less common conditions.

Because of this work, research nurses must be very clear when involving patients and volunteers in lab experiments and clinical trials.

Individuals must also be fully aware of any known possible side effects a particular medication or treatment plan may produce.

Most research nurses work with physicians, doctors, registered nurses, practitioners, and other healthcare professionals.

It allows them to improve their understanding of a particular illness or disease through collaboration and teamwork.

It also provides them develop better alternatives for their patients to enhance comprehensive patient care.

Research Nurse Responsibilities:

  • Study and implement beneficial procedures
  • Review medical journals, case studies, and other data
  • Report research findings and results
  • Conduct clinical trials
  • Educate patients and volunteers on trials
  • Observe patient care practices
  • Write articles and reports
  • Determine alternative care practices
  • Collaborate with other specialists

Where Do Research Nurses Work?

Research nurses work in a wide variety of healthcare and research-based settings.

For instance, these specialists work at hospitals, community clinics, research centers, and healthcare-related organizations.

They also work for government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, universities, and the private sector.

As a result, research nurses operate in diverse public and private healthcare sectors.

How To Become A Research Nurse

Becoming a research nurse requires specialists to develop their education training in informatics and research methodology.

Healthcare research is challenging, time-consuming, highly analytical, and often based on trial and error.

As a result, nurses must acquire the skillsets necessary to analyze and interpret healthcare data correctly.

The following sections explore the steps necessary to become a research nurse.

It includes obtaining a BSN, gaining clinical work experience, acquiring post-graduate education, and finding a job.

1 Obtain a BSN

The first step aspiring research nurses must complete is obtaining their BSN degree.

A bachelor of science in nursing provides nurses with a foundational knowledge of nursing practice and methodologies.

It also prepares registered nurses to specialize in over one hundred disciplines depending on their interests and skillset.

Students must complete several college prerequisite courses to enter a nursing program to obtain a BSN.

 The BSN program is a four-year commitment that teaches students the fundamentals of nursing.

At the end of the program, students must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain their licensure.

It enables them to begin working as licensed registered nurses.

2. Aquire Clinical Work Experience

After obtaining a BSN and licensure, it’s vital to get clinical work experience.

It’s beneficial to apply for work in a clinical research setting to develop your skillset and progress your career.

Numerous jobs offer research nurse positions with no research experience required.

These positions provide on-the-job training for entry-level positions enabling nurses to develop their clinical experience.

Some entry-level jobs provide full training, while others prefer nurses with general nursing experience and certifications.

As a result, it’s essential to understand the job requirements to determine whether you qualify for the position.

More advanced positions will require nurses to have previous clinical experience.

3. Complete Post Graduate Education

Completing post-graduate education is optional for numerous research nurse positions.

However, some high-level research careers require nurses to obtain post-graduate education.

A post-graduate degree takes approximately two to three years for those with a BSN.

It provides registered nurses with a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree.

Those with an MSN degree are known as advanced practice registered nurses or APRNs.

These specialists have the broadest scope of practice in the nursing profession, aside from those who possess a DNP.

It allows nurses to work as nurse anesthetists, practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse midwives.

Advanced practice registered nurses can perform many high-level responsibilities.

For instance, they diagnose conditions, prescribe medications, and act as primary care providers.

Some also perform research, accept management/leadership roles, and open independent practices.

An MSN degree enables research nurses to accept high-level research jobs and pursue management/leadership roles.

It includes a clinical research coordinator, project manager, principal investigator, and other high-level careers.

As a result, acquiring an MSN is ideal for those who want to advance further within the research nursing discipline.

Obtaining a Research Job

Organizations that hire research nurses prefer registered nurses with a BSN or MSN degree.

There are entry-level positions for those with an ADN, but they’re more limited in career growth and development.

Regarding higher-level careers, employers may request nurses with previous research experience.

It includes positions in leadership, management, and high-level research responsibilities.

Previous experience may not be required to obtain an entry-level research nurse job.

However, many companies prefer people who require less training and know how to conduct research and clinical trials.

In this case, research nurse certification is beneficial to ensure the employer of their skillset and knowledge.

Research Nurse Certifications

Numerous research jobs do not require nurses to obtain certifications to receive employment.

However, it can help research nurses improve their skillsets and career opportunities.

Acquiring certifications shows potential employers that they’re highly qualified and understand all research areas.

It also enables some research nurses to earn higher incomes due to their certification.

Those interested in obtaining certification may do so through the Society for Clinical Research Associates (SORCA).

The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) also offers numerous clinical research certifications.

Nevertheless, it’s necessary to meet the organization’s requirements to receive reliability for their certification exam.

The Importance of Research Nurses

The need for skilled nurses continues to expand due to an aging population, retiring nurses, and educational challenges.

The standards of the healthcare industry also continually grow, requiring healthcare professionals to adapt and improve.

As a result, the research nurses aim to improve healthcare systems, technologies, procedures, and patient care practices. 

These specialists are highly beneficial for moving the healthcare industry forward.

They advance medicine and improve patients’ lives relying on the best medical practices and technology available.

Finding healthcare solutions to medical approaches is significantly slowed and more complex without research nurses.

The nursing industry is the largest sector in healthcare.

As a result, they play an essential role in ensuring the healthcare industry runs smoothly and benefits society.