How to Become a Nurse Researcher?

Do you enjoy research? Then you may want to become a nurse researcher. The demand for this occupation is high because professional organizations are looking for research-based methods to make nursing care more effective. Nursing researchers are projected to grow 19% between 2012 and 2022, faster than most other occupations. This means that nurses are in demand who have professional training and can also help find ways to improve nursing care worldwide.

Because research nurses conduct experiments and studies in a hospital, clinic, or lab setting that produce information that you can apply to improve health care, their work is essential to nursing practice.

Even when nurses are not directly involved in the research process, they use the results of nurse researchers’ analyses when deciding how best to provide quality care for patients. Let’s explore what you need to do to become a nurse researcher.

What is a Nurse Researcher?

A nurse researcher is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) studying various aspects of healthcare and illness. They can be involved in questions about how to best deliver care, whether a medication or treatment works better than something else, and more.

Their responsibility is to conduct research and experiments, collect data, analyze information for accuracy and reliability, find results that can be implemented in the healthcare field, and use this information to benefit patients.

 What Does a Nurse Researcher Do?

As previously mentioned, nurse researchers design and implement scientific studies to improve nursing. They can use their vast knowledge of nursing science and research methods to complete projects that can have a real-world impact on patient care.

Nursing professionals are also responsible for finding appropriate subjects for their studies and recruiting these subjects so that they participate in the study. They also have to closely monitor the progress of those who participate in their research activities to ensure that all data is collected and accurately analyzed.

The main purpose of their job is to do evidence-based practice.

Where Do Nurse Researchers Work?

The nurse researchers can work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, universities, government agencies, and more. They can also work full-time or part-time depending on their preferences.

 Some Responsibilities of Nurse Researchers Include:

  • Conducting scientific research and implementing it
  • Observing and supervising patient care, treatments, and procedures
  • Throughout their studies, collecting and analyzing data
  • Compilation of research findings into a report
  • Results of research presented to superiors
  • Attending conferences, meetings, and other public appearances to give results
  • Recruitment of participants for studies

Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Clinical Trials Research Nurse

In order to become a nurse researcher, you have to follow these five steps:

Step 1 – Graduate From High School

Before graduating from high school, there are many prerequisites that you will need to meet. You will have to graduate with required English, Biology, Chemistry, and mathematics courses.

A clinical rotation course allows students to apply their skills in a natural setting under the supervision of nurses or physicians. To become a nurse researcher, it is also essential for you to complete at least two science-related clinical rotation courses. With these prerequisites completed, you are now ready to begin your journey into higher education.

Step 2 – Graduating Programs

To become a nurse researcher, you will need to go to college and complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The Commission requires on Nurse Certification (CNC) that nurses earn an approved bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). After you successfully graduate, you can now begin your master’s program. There are two types of nurse researcher education programs:

Associate’s degree in nursing (ADN)

The associate’s degree is a two-year degree and includes at least 300 supervised clinical hours in various healthcare settings. You will also need to complete your general education courses and requirements before progressing to the next level and earning your BSN.

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN Degree)

This four-year program requires applicants to have earned their associate’s degree in nursing before moving forward with this course of study. Once again, you must also successfully pass all science courses required by the CNC before starting school. During your time in college, you can choose between entry-level research or advanced practice research degrees.

Step 3 – Become Licensed as a Registered Nurse

Each state in the united states has its licensing board where nurses must apply to be certified before practice. Once you have completed your education and passed all exams, you can now sit for the state licensing exam. The NCLEX-RN exam is the American testing standard for all registered nurses. Once you pass this test, the state will send your license to you within four weeks.

 Step 4 – Gain One Year of Clinical Trials Research Experience

Getting experience is very important because you will need to apply the skills you learned in school. They are essential to clinical trials research because they help administer different tests and treatments, maintain records, ensure patient compliance with medication, and collect data. You can gain experience by working as a Research Assistant (RA) or Research Coordinator (RC).

 Step 5 – Prepare for The Certification Exam

After finishing your bachelor’s degree program through college, you must pass other exams before completing the certification process. These tests include:

CNE (Certified Nurse Educator) Exam: Also known as the PANCE test, it measures your ability to teach students of all levels, including graduate-level courses. After passing nursing courses, you must have at least three years of teaching experience to qualify for this exam.

CPNE (Clinical Nurse Specialist) Test: This exam measures your ability to deliver patient care in specialty areas like cardiology, oncology, or pediatrics. You also must pass this test if you want to provide care for patients who are terminally ill.

CAPEX (California Advanced Practice License Examination) tests how well you can treat patients with complex problems and connect them to their primary healthcare providers. If you wish to become a nurse practitioner, then this is the exam that you will need to pass before practicing in California. This exam measures your ability to deliver patient care in specialty areas like cardiology, oncology, or pediatrics. You also must pass this test if you want to provide care for terminally ill patients.

Step 6 – Take and Pass the Certification Exam

The last step in becoming a nurse researcher is completing and passing the certification process. This step requires nurses to have at least three years of experience. After that, you can now sit for the certification exam administered by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). You will need to take a national, standardized test to become board certified.

The certification process is suitable for six years after completing your nursing education. So, it is recommended that before applying, you must have already passed all exams required by your state. After passing this exam, you are eligible to call yourself a nurse researcher or RN/NP with several specializations.

Essential Skills You Need To Become a Nurse Researcher

There are vital skills that nurses need to have before becoming successful nurse researchers. Some of them are listed below:

Problem Solving

This is one of the essential skills that you will need to use every day in your career. It is important for nurses because they are the ones who help patients identify problems and find ways to solve them.


With verbal communication skills, nurses must write reports, research papers, or proposals well so that their ideas can be communicated well with both other nurses and medical professionals. Nurses also have to document their care plans, so they need a detailed yet easy-to-understand writing style.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability of a person to evaluate a situation or problem by taking into account different critical factors such as possible risks, cost-benefit analysis instead of just going according to what an authority figure tells them.

Computer Skills

Nurses need to have basic computer skills to use different software applications for research. Basic computer skills are also essential to communicate with other people, primarily through social media or email.

Research Analysis, Paper Writing, and Oral Presentation Skills

After nurses have gathered all the data about their cases, they must analyze these data so it will be easier to give information about what needs to be done next. Nurses also write case reports, so they must know how to do this efficiently and accurately. After writing essays, nurses then need to present their findings in different conferences or seminars. This is why they must go through training programs to deliver speeches effectively.

So, there you have it, everything you need to know about becoming a nurse researcher. If you want to be part of this rewarding and creative profession, then take the necessary steps listed above so that your application process will not be that difficult.

Frequently Asked Questions

After all the details, some people might have some questions so let’s move into answering those.

What is the Job Outlook for a Research Nurse?

According to the BLS, the career outlook in 2018, there were 3,059,800 Registered Nurses in the United States. By 2028, there will be a need for additional 371,500 nurses, which is an expected growth of 12%. With the aging population, this number is expected to be even higher. The BLS identifies medical scientists, including clinical research nurses, as having a growth potential of 8% between 2018 to 2028. 

What are the Continuing Education Requirements for a Research Nurse?

Generally, to maintain an RN license, they must complete a certain amount of continuing education credits every year to ensure that all nurses are up-to-date with their skills and knowledge. Nurses who work as research nurses may need to complete more credits depending on the type of research. This can be done by taking classes from universities or through workshops. In addition, there are also continuing nursing education providers that will allow nurses to earn CEUs or Continuing Education Units for a fee.

What Is the Difference Between a Clinical Nurse and a Research Nurse?

A nurse researcher conducts investigations on clinical problems under the guidance of other researchers or scientists, while clinical nurses help individuals who are already sick or injured. They also provide reasonable care to patients by assessing their conditions and administering medication or treatments based on scientific data gathered by research nurses. A clinical nurse can be employed in hospitals, but since they need to focus all their energy on caring for patients, they should not be part of research projects.

Who Can Be a Research Nurse?

Research nurses work under other researchers or scientists to gather data about specific health conditions. They are also responsible for the accuracy of their documentation, analysis, and presentation of these data. Nurses who want to become research nurses should have an RN license, have at least two years of nursing experience, and demonstrate effective written and oral communication skills. They must have excellent critical thinking skills since they will be working with people who might have varying opinions or conclusions about specific topics.

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