As a nurse, you can provide care in a variety of settings, from primary care in a physician’s office to intensive care at a hospital. Now more than ever, many nurses are working in a different setting: clinical research.
What is clinical research?
Clinical research studies the effectiveness of new medicines, treatment, devices, screenings and diagnostic tools. Every advance in medicine we have today is thanks to the efforts of clinical researchers.
The most common type of clinical research is the clinical trial. During a clinical trial, patients take new medicines or undergo new treatments. The trial reveals if these medicines are safe, effective and offer benefits over existing medicines.
Many different types of health professionals conduct clinical research, including scientists, physicians, nurses, and paramedics. Each healthcare professional brings a different and important perspective to research, helping improve healthcare now and into the future.
What is a research nurse?
A research nurse, or clinical trials nurse, is at the leading edge of new medical discoveries. He or she studies diseases, helps develop new treatments and examines how to improve patient care. Research nurses may work for hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, private physician offices, universities and in many other settings.
As a member of the clinical research team, a nurse often takes on responsibilities such as:
- Studying and reading medical journals
- Evaluating previous research
- Providing patient care
- Organizing and overseeing clinical trials
- Recruiting people to clinical trials
- Collecting data on a treatment’s effectiveness
- Giving medicines and treatments according to a strict protocol
- Recording and documenting all research results
- Writing research studies for publications
A nurse’s role depends on the type of research he or she is working on and how their research team is organized.
To become a research nurse, you must be a registered nurse. Many employers require a Master’s degree or PhD in nursing as well. Typically the higher your education and certification, the more leadership you have on a research team.
Research nurses should also have taken classes in clinical research or trials. After gaining experience as a research nurse, you qualify to become certified through the Association of Clinical Research Professionals.
Why do nurses transition to clinical trials and research?
You may choose to become a research nurse for many reasons. Some nurses enjoy working normal hours and shifts, typically from 8 am to 5 pm, without having to work night shifts or long 12-hour shifts.
But for many research nurses, clinical research and trails are their calling. They may understand the impact their clinical research work has on the future of medicine, and feel fulfilled by helping to bring about these advances. They understand that a nurse’s perspective is unique and valuable to the improvement of healthcare and strive to help not just their patients, but patients across the world receive better care.
If you are interested in becoming a research nurse, you can undergo extra training and education to learn how research work. At Portland Community College, our Foundations of Clinical Research program helps experienced health professionals transition into research roles and take their careers to the next level.
Learn more about how our program can help you become a Clinical Trials Nurse.