Career advice

More than meets the eye

In my work as a research nurse for more than four years, I gained experience in a range of tasks and roles.

In my work as a research nurse for more than four years, I gained experience in a range of tasks and roles. These included recruiting patients, gaining informed consent, collecting research data, dispensing trial medication, collecting and overall study co-ordination.

Last year, I moved to a new joint role of research nurse/research fellow in neuro-rehabilitation. This led me to reflect that most research nurse work is concerned with research delivery while the wider research process presents many other opportunities.

Research idea.

Research design.

Funding and approvals.

Research nurse activities.

Data analysis.

Dissemination of findings.

In the research nurse role, as well as co-ordinating research studies, I also helped neuro-rehabilitation staff to implement evidence-based practice, set up a journal club and devised research awareness sessions for non-qualified clinical staff.

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As a research fellow, I worked on a study to test a new stroke rehabilitation service. I was responsible for reviewing the literature to inform the study design, managing a patient/public involvement group, co-ordinating the research team, producing study documents and contributing to the funding application.

I realised how my research nurse skills were valuable in designing a feasible and unambiguous study, while my academic knowledge helped me to reflect critically on my practice, and ensure the scientific value of studies was retained. Clinical staff have become more eager to refer patients to me for studies.

Although I have found that some academic researchers believe research nurses make valuable contributions to study design, it can be difficult for us to access training and develop academic confidence.

Despite the challenges, I believe research nurses can use their experience of research delivery to contribute to the wider research process, and can look for opportunities outside their normal roles to enhance their careers.

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