Nurse Researcher


Nurse Researcher Job Description & Scope of Practice
A nurse researcher is a nursing professional and research specialist who implements and analyzes scientific data regarding health care.  The research nurse may work in one of many different health care settings including research laboratories, universities, non-profit organizations, and private companies.  The nursing research specialist does research and analyzes the results in the form of reports, papers, and studies.

This advanced nursing position is a scientist who identifies and researches scientific studies related to the health care industry.  Medical research studies are often funded through grants.  Nurses may also author papers, studies, and articles that are published in professional journals.  Many of these research specialists are also involved in academics as teachers.  An advanced nurse may start as a clinical research assistant, a research coordinator, or a research monitor.

Job duties include some of the following:

  • Helps prove scientific basis for medicine
  • Assists in the prevention of diseases
  • Works to control or eliminate symptoms of specific illnesses
  • Improves management of long-term and end-of-life care

How to Become a Nurse Researcher

A research nurse combines the nursing field with the scientific field.  If you like the idea of nursing but prefer to use the knowledge in a more scientific way, this may be the ideal position for you.  Research nurses spend more time with facts and figures than with patients. You will need to have a strong background in both nursing and researching.  The ideal candidate will have a logical approach to medicine and a longing to continue to learn more about the various aspects of the science of medicine.

Nurse Researcher Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs

The ideal nursing candidate will achieve advanced degrees in nursing.  The critical educational path should include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Master’s Degree in Nursing
  • Doctorate Degree

The nursing research specialist will need to study in the areas of nursing as well as research such as biology.  The aspiring nurse will need to have an analytical approach to the medical profession.  While this profession does require a nursing degree, it is used in a more scientific way than is usual.  It is important for someone seeking this position to have a strong educational emphasis on scientific research.

Many research nurses begin by gaining experience as a registered nurse before choosing a career in nurse research.  An advanced degree should focus on a specific area of concentration such as infectious diseases, cancer research, or pediatric health.

Nurse researchers who wish to become certified do so through the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA). Eligible candidates must be a member of SoCRA and also have two years experience working full time as a clinical research professional or an equivalent of 3500 hours. A combination of experience and/or appropriate education in clinical research may reduce or eliminate experience requirements. The certification exam covers five major subject areas including conduct of clinical trials, institutional review boards and regulations, ethical issues, ability to follow directions and abstracting information from medical records. Those who successfully complete the exam earn the designation of Clinical Research Professional (CRP). Certification is not required to work as a clinical researcher. However, certified individuals may find it easier to obtain employment.

Nurse Researcher Salary and Career Outlook

The need for medical professionals in general will increase over the next decades. Medical research is a much needed part of the medical community.  The nursing researcher has the opportunity to work in one of many varied environments including both private and public sectors.  It is anticipated that the need for nursing positions will continue to grow as these nurses are required for many varied job assignments.

The salary of a scientific nurse will vary depending on the level of education, the amount of experience, and the position the nurse holds.  In general, the salary expectations range from $62,000 to $75,000, with the salary level increasing with experience. 

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