Nurse Researcher

What Does a Nurse Researcher Do?

Nurse researchers conduct research on health-related issues in order to improve health care services and patient outcomes. They are scientists who design and implement scientific studies, and identify research questions, collect and analyze data, and report their findings. Those findings can be applied to practice innovations in patient care and be used to solve clinical problems. Through the hard work and dedication of nurse researchers, new and better ways are found to deliver health care services, improve the quality of life in chronically ill patients, provide care for patients at the end of life, prevent injury and illness, and inform patients about healthy nutrition, fitness and lifestyle choices. Nurse researchers work on individually funded projects, which can involve repetitive and detailed work like collecting and tabulating data, managing databases, reviewing documents, writing grants and recruiting subjects. Research nurses may find themselves moving from one project to the next, as studies need funding and there are specific time periods one can work before grant money ends. Although research can be tedious, it can also be highly rewarding, as these types of nurses contribute to discoveries that directly impact people’s lives.

How Can I Become a Nurse Researcher?

To be a nurse researcher you must be an inquisitive person who enjoys discovering solutions and is interested in quantitative and qualitative research. If you want to be a nurse researcher you must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through an accredited nursing program. You will then need to pass the NCLEX-RN examination to be certified as a licensed and registered nurse. To qualify to work in the advanced and competitive field of research, you will also need to complete a master’s degree in nursing. For work in advanced nursing research, one is typically required to hold a doctorate. Because of the education levels required to work in research, many schools have programs that will let students work on a degree while also working on research studies. Higher-level degree programs often concentrate on a particular area of nursing. If you’re interested in research, you should choose one that emphasizes it so that you can gain experience in the field.

What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Nurse Researcher?

Those who want to pursue a career as a nurse researcher have the opportunity to work in many different environments on studies that are as challenging as they are exciting. Nurse researchers work in a variety of healthcare settings like research organizations, laboratories, universities, private companies and nonprofit organizations focused on healthcare issues. Nurses who are just starting out their careers in research can be research assistants, clinical research monitors and clinical data coordinators. Advanced positions include those of a clinical nurse research coordinator, research nurse specialist and senior research nurse. The most advanced research role is that of a principle investigator, who has the most responsibility and accountability in a particular study. Many nurse researchers choose to teach in an academic or clinical setting, and write articles and research reports for professional journals and publications associated with nursing and medical issues. The salary outlook for the nurses who conduct research depends on the rank of position, as well as the type of research and available funding. According to, the average nurse researcher has a median expected salary of $67,345, but that can vary depending on years of experience and specific qualifications.

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