A nurse researcher is a highly trained professional who strives to better the health of patients by improving health care methods and outcomes where necessary. This is accomplished by studying and researching the various factors of physical and emotional health, health care, and health issues. Nurse researchers must meet certain educational and training requirements and are employed in various locations with differing duties.

Common Duties

First, we are going to discuss just exactly what sets nurse researchers apart from general practice nurses. This mainly involves the types of duties that these unique nurses are responsible for during a typical work day. While looking over the following list, you will notice that nurses working in research are responsible for more behind-the-scenes tasks than are general practice nurses. In fact, this is perhaps the biggest difference between these two occupations. Nevertheless, both careers are linked and compliment each other in providing excellent health care to patients. Some of the most common responsibilities of nurses working in research are:

  • Create and Conduct Clinical Studies
  • Monitor Progress of Studies
  • Collect Data and Analyze Findings
  • Report Findings to Superiors
  • Write Effective Grant Proposals
  • Write Research Articles for Various Medical Journals
  • Help to Develop New Treatment Methods and Medications

Places of Employment

To fully understand what a nurse researcher is, you also need to learn where you will most likely find these professionals. While traditional general practice nurses most often work in various medical facilities providing direct care to patients, nurse researchers can typically be found working in a variety of research facilities. This can include a broad range of facilities such as:

  • Research Departments of Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Research Departments of Colleges and Universities
  • Medical Research Laboratories
  • Various Government Agencies
  • Various Nonprofit Organizations
  • Research Departments of Teaching Hospitals
  • Some Large Medical Facilities

Training and Education

Another big difference between general practice nurses and nurse researchers concerns the amount of education and training required for each occupation. Whereas a general practice RN can obtain employment and begin working with simply an associate degree in nursing, a nurse researcher will need to earn a Master’s of Science in Nursing (please see: How Long Does it Take to Get a Masters in Nursing?) or a PhD in nursing.

Since it can take many years to accomplish this, some nurses choose to start out slow by earning either an associate or bachelor degree in nursing before going back to school to earn their higher degrees. After earning your graduate degree and gaining several years of practical work experience, you will also need to apply for research certification through the Association of Clinical Research Professionals.

As you can see, there are several distinct differences between general practice nurses and those who choose to work in research. However, a nurse researcher is similar to other nurses in that all nursing professionals provide much-needed services to help care for sick and injured persons all over the country.