If you are a nursing professional intrigued with the idea of being at ground zero when medical breakthroughs are made, you may find your niche as a clinical trials nurse. Working with doctors and medical researchers, clinical trials nurses help shape tomorrow’s medicine.
Does a Clinical Trials Nurse Work With Patients?
Although clinical trials nurses may not spend as much time with patients as their peers who work in more traditional nursing careers, they do spend some time interacting with the patients participating in their clinical trials. Nurses working in research are often expected to identify potential clinical trial participants and to oversee the process of recruiting those patients for their experimental research. They are also responsible for ensuring the patient has information about the trial’s potential benefits and risks, and that the patient understands that information well enough to be able to give informed consent. Once patients enroll in the trial, a clinical trials nurse follows their participation, often taking health histories, watching for negative effects and collecting samples. In many ways, a clinical trials nurse acts as an advocate for those patients participating in the research experiment.
What Other Responsibilities Does a Clinical Trials Nurse Have?
The role of a clinical trial nurse is extensive, according to Clinfield, an organization dedicated to career development for nurses in the research field. As an experiment begins, clinical trial nurses are often part of the team challenged with establishing the study protocol. They must balance the needs of the researchers and those of the participating patients as they sort out the rules for exactly how researchers will try to answer their guiding question. This involves determining how often patients should be seen and what types of clinical data will be collected during those visits. Clinical trials nurses may also assist in developing the information sheet and consent form that will be used to recruit patients for the trial. Some are even responsible for securing approval for their study from the appropriate authorities. Once the research actively begins, clinical trials nurses are active in ensuring that data collection follows the proper protocol. They may also be expected to process these samples in the lab and input results into the clinical database. Finally, they participate in the team that reviews and assess the collected data.
How Does Someone Become a Clinical Trials Nurse?
While it is possible to become a nurse with an associate degree, people interested in becoming clinical trial nurses should complete a more in-depth bachelor’s degree program in nursing at an accredited college or university. Then, they must pass for the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses to become licensed registered nurses. Some clinical trials nurses gain professional experience in more traditional nursing roles before switching their focus to research, but others jump straight into jobs in the research field with health care businesses like pharmaceutical companies and government organizations like the National Institutes of Health.
Are Additional Certifications Available for Clinical Trials Nurses?
Although being a registered nurse is enough to obtain an entry-level position in clinical trials research, additional certifications can expand the range of opportunities available. Clinical trials nurses can seek certifications from organizations like the Society for Clinical Research Associates and the Association for Clinical Research Professionals. Many colleges and universities also offer graduate-level degree programs for clinical research professionals.
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For those who wish to work on the cutting-edge of health care, clinical trials research offers challenging professional opportunities. A clinical trials nurse plays a vital role in the research that offers new hope and new treatments to patients battling health issues.