Research Nurse: Job Description and Education Requirements

Sep 16, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a research nurse. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and licensing to find out if this is the career for you.

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A research nurse gathers medical data and applies it to healthcare research. They must be able to evaluate the material and work effectively with other researchers. Research nurses must be registered in their state and hold at least a bachelor's degree in nursing; sometimes they are required to earn a clinical research certificate.

Essential Information

A research nurse is involved in organizing and implementing clinical research projects with care and accuracy, so it's helpful if they possess solid written and verbal communication skills. The majority of research nurses have earned a four-year degree in nursing and are licensed as registered nurses. Additionally, some employers require completion of a certificate program in clinical research.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in registered nursing; a clinical research certificate also might be needed
Other Requirements State licensing as a registered nurse
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 12% for all registered nurses
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $71,730 for all registered nurses

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Research nurses apply and direct various clinical research projects. Patients are their research subjects, and nurses should primarily be concerned with the protection and care of patients. The ability to organize and prioritize responsibilities while paying close attention to detail is an asset in this position. Research nurses can also be expected to perform the following tasks:

  • Compile clinical data and enter it into a database
  • Review and assess data collected
  • Collaborate with investigators and statistical consultants
  • Screen and recruit subjects for clinical studies
  • Assist with surgical procedures as needed

Research nurses should possess knowledge of medical and scientific terminology, strong interpersonal and communication skills, the capacity to analyze and interpret data, and the ability to maintain confidentiality. Nurses also need to be comfortable working with potentially infectious and hazardous materials. They must obtain immunizations and take precautions against the spread of communicable diseases.

Education Requirements

Research nurses are required to complete a bachelor's degree program in nursing and be licensed in their particular state as a registered nurse (RN). Some employers might accept candidates who are eligible for licensure but have not yet received their license.

In some cases, completion of a clinical research certificate program might be expected. These programs typically cover data collection and management, clinical research methods and healthcare statistics. Certificate programs might also instruct students in practical applications of research and ethical standards for conducting research. In addition to opening up opportunities in research nursing, a clinical research certificate program can also prepare students for a career as a clinical research associate, clinical research coordinator or clinical investigator.

Besides being licensed as an RN, individuals who wish to become research nurses might be expected to have 1-2 years of clinical experience. Supervised clinical experience in a research environment might be available through nursing education programs.

Having the capability to collect, perform, interpret, and apply clinical data is imperative for a research nurse. Research nurses should also have prior fieldwork, a college degree, and possibly a special certificate in clinical research.

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