Research Nurse Certification and Certificate Programs

Most aspiring research nurses have a MSN with a specialization in clinical research management. The clinical research management track of a MSN program is very intensive in science, healthcare and communication studies, and include labs and a thesis.

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Essential Information

Research nurses perform scientific and clinical studies on behalf of hospitals and pharmaceutical companies for the purpose of developing and testing new drugs or other healthcare-related items. Ethics and regulations are strongly reinforced to ensure that all learners clearly understand the seriousness and danger involved with experimentation and clinical trials. Graduates work in laboratories where they develop and implement research projects, and plan and analyze the laboratory results at the conclusion of the trials. Specific emphasis is placed on the development of new healthcare techniques, medicines and tools.

Enrollment in an MSN program with a specialization in clinical research management requires students to have a bachelor's degree in nursing and be a licensed RN. The application process includes submitting letters of recommendation, writing a personal statement and completing an interview. Once in the program, students are required to complete lab practicums and a thesis.


Master of Science in Nursing

Students entering an M.S.N. with a clinical research management track must submit a transcript of coursework from a bachelor's in nursing degree. Individuals with a bachelor's in another discipline rather than nursing must have a diploma or associate's degree in nursing. Applicants must either be licensed as an RN or have the training to obtain licensure. Most graduate programs require several letters of reference along with a personal statement that details the student's goals and aspirations as a research nurse. Finally, a university may require a faculty member to interview the applicant.

Graduates in this program spend a majority of their time in labs, performing independent research for a thesis project. Classroom lectures and independent study covering research methods and advanced healthcare topics make up another portion of the student's coursework. Specific courses a clinical research management track include:

  • Applied drug therapy
  • Advanced physiology
  • Nursing research
  • Healthcare research
  • Organizational foundations in healthcare
  • Research clinical trial management

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

As of 2016, Salary.com reported that research nurses earned a median of $76,221. Most nurses prior to entering into a research position work as registered nurses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses had a yearly median wage of $67,490 in May 2015. Job opportunities for registered nurses are expected to be very good, increasing by 16% from 2014-2024, as stated by the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

In some cases, special licenses might be required of researchers in addition to an RN license. Employers typically assist workers in obtaining any required licensure.

RNs wanting to conduct research as a profession often seek a MSN degree with a specialization in clinical research. This degree teaches students knowledge needed to be a research nurses, including research ethics, research methodology, pharmacology and physiology.

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