Registered nurses who want to advance their careers in the nursing field have a wide variety of options to choose from, all of which can lead to challenging, rewarding jobs.
One such position is nurse researcher, a scientist who specializes in research relevant to nursing and healthcare as a whole. Those who hold this position work on studies that can improve health outcomes for entire patient populations. It’s a vital job in the world of modern healthcare.
Becoming one takes specialized training and education. It also typically requires an advanced degree, such as the MSN Clinical Nurse Educator.
What Does A Nurse Researcher Do?
Typically, a nurse researcher works at a hospital, medical clinic or research laboratory. They design and run studies on specific healthcare issues and often publish these studies in medical journals.
The job requires expert-level clinical knowledge as well as the ability to develop studies and analyze the data a study produces. Working in nurse research also requires an understanding of research methodologies and the processes and tools used to conduct research.
Ultimately, the goal of nurse research is to create better health outcomes for patients. Examples of nurse research areas include the following:
- Finding better treatment options for certain healthcare populations, such as elderly patients or those from economically disadvantaged areas
- Developing nutrition and exercise plans for patients that lead to better health outcomes
- Improving health and quality of life for patients who suffer from chronic illnesses or medical conditions
- Improving services and medical treatment offered to those in “end of life” situations, particularly those suffering from chronic illnesses
Becoming a nurse researcher places a nurse on the cutting edge of developing new approaches to healthcare. It also can lead to better health for patients and more efficient care delivery for healthcare providers.
Nurse Researcher Job Growth and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is considered the most reliable source for information about careers in the United States. However, the agency does not track specific numbers for nurse researchers.
However, for registered nurses as a whole, the BLS projects 16% job growth between 2014 and 2024. The median salary for nurses was $68,450 in May 2016. Those in specialized fields such as nurse research typically make more. Because salary potential and employment opportunities may vary depending on factors such as a candidate’s education and experience, as well as regional market conditions, prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research.
How to Become a Nurse Researcher
Working in nurse research requires a specific set of skills, including the following:
- Aptitude in clinical knowledge
- Expert-level knowledge in conducting studies and analyzing findings
- Capability to partner with scientists in other fields, such as doctors, pharmacists and nutritionists
- Ability to write grant funding proposals, as much of nurse research is funding by grants from nonprofit or government entities
Formal education starts by earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing and getting licensed as a registered nurse. After experience as a registered nurse, those who wish to move into nurse research typically enter a master’s level degree program.
One such program, the Clinical Nurse Educator program at Jacksonville University, offers nurses extensive education in conducting research, analyzing results and putting those findings into action. Nurses who graduate from these programs are ready to take the next step into becoming a nurse researcher.
Nurse researchers also typically go through internships, specialized on-the-job training and research assistant jobs on their way to become nurse researchers, according to the National Institute of Nursing Research. They also become certified as nurse researchers.
Nurse research offers a challenging job for registered nurses who wish to move into an area where they can influence patient care in a significant way. It’s a career that offers a chance to improve treatment for patients and make medical services more efficient and effective.