A Guide to Becoming a Clinical Research Nurse

A Guide to Becoming a Clinical Research Nurse

Nurse and Patient

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Maybe you’re a nurse who would also like to be more involved in the clinical research process. Or maybe you’re a nurse who also wants to ensure the highest standard of care for patients in research trials. 

If either of these things are true for you, then you might have what it takes to become a clinical research nurse. 

Clinical research nurses are an integral part of the research process. They are essentially the managers of the most important part of any medical research: the trial patients themselves. 

The role can be very rewarding, both mentally and financially. It’s not without its challenges, however, and that is something everyone who wants to be a  clinical research nurse should take into account.

To help with this decision, BioSpace has outlined the role of a clinical research nurse, its ups and downs, and what it takes to become part of this crucial role.

What is a Clinical Research Nurse?

A clinical research nurse is responsible for the direct care of patients who are participants in clinical trials. These trials could involve anything from testing new treatments to researching novel approaches to human health.

The clinical research nurse is responsible for administering treatment, collecting data from test results and ensuring that the care, best interests and confidentiality of their patients are maintained at all times. 

In this way, the role seems similar to that of a traditional nurse. There are a few key differences, however. The role of the clinical research nurse also involves: 

  1. Greater involvement in the research process. A clinical research nurse may be involved in designing the actual clinical trial. He or she may also be asked to help design patient protocols for future trials as well. The clinical research nurse may also be involved in the initial screening process for selecting patients for trials. 

  2. An understanding of how clinical research works. A clinical research nurse requires in-depth knowledge of the clinical research process itself. This means he or she must understand how trials are designed, how treatments are administered and how conclusions are drawn from the results. 

  3. Maintaining confidentiality of both the patient and the project. In addition to maintaining the confidentiality of their patients, the clinical research nurse must also maintain the confidentiality of the entire research project as well. 

Clinical research nurses may work out of typical nursing settings, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities. However, they are just as likely to work out of biotech laboratories or university research centers. Depending on the type of study, their patients may be day patients or inpatients at various care centers. 

Pros of Becoming a Clinical Research Nurse

  1. It’s an integral role in developing better patient care. Clinical research nurses are involved with more than the care of their patients. They’re also helping to develop new treatments and better research that could one day help future patients. For this reason, clinical research nurses usually find their work very rewarding.  

  1. Compensation is competitive. Clinical research nurses often receive higher salaries than traditional nurses. While the median annual salary of a registered nurse in the US is $ 93,089, the median annual salary of a clinical research nurse is $116,2992.  

  1. The need for clinical research nurses will continue to grow. As the US population ages, the need for more medical research will increase.  This means the need for more clinical research nurses will increase as well.  Anyone with the qualifications to become a clinical research nurse should have no trouble finding work. 

Cons of Becoming a Clinical Research Nurse

  1. Patient advocacy may be a source of stress. In clinical research situations, the pressure may be on to ensure the research can be completed on time. In these cases, the clinical research nurse may need to step up and speak on behalf of their patients. 

  2. Drugs administered are not always FDA-approved. Because clinical research nurses work in clinical trials, many of the drugs they administer to patients may be experimental. Someone who is not comfortable with this may want to consider a different career. 

Regardless of the impact on the study itself, the clinical research nurse’s patients must be their top priority. If patient advocacy is not a source of stress for you, then this should be of little to no issue. 

Necessary Skills and Experience

The basic requirements of a clinical research nurse are similar to traditional nurses. A bachelor’s degree in nursing, biology or a similar discipline is required. Most job postings require a current state license as a registered nurse as well. 

Many clinical research centers require at least some experience in a research setting. This can be gained by applying for roles as a clinical research assistant first. Once enough experience is gained in this type of role, nurses can apply for clinical research nursing positions. 

Nurses may also want to consider earning a master’s of science in nursing in order to qualify for top-paying clinical research nursing positions. 

Clinical research companies also look for several crucial soft skills. Good communication skills, the ability to be well-organized at all times and an innate sense of ethics are all important in a clinical nursing role. 

Taking the Next Step

If you’re a caring and compassionate nurse who also has a strong desire to improve medical care for the future, then a role as a clinical research nurse may be the perfect fit for you. 

If you’re ready to start applying, be sure to check out BioSpace’s current job postings for clinical research nurses.