What Does a Nurse Researcher Do?

Nurse researchers collect and analyze medical data.
Nurse researchers work closely with doctors and other medical scientists in the field.
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  • Written By: Erin Oxendine
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 12 December 2014
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A nurse researcher assists with collecting data in the field of health and medical care. The nurse may review the data and provide information on the results. He or she plays a significant role in helping doctors and scientists understand the complications of medical conditions.

Several duties may be required of people who work in a research position. The researcher may need to come up with questions to ask an ill patient, for example. Family members of patients often will try to help provide information about the patient’s circumstance. Other tasks may include writing medical articles or helping with grant proposals.

Many different places use nurse researchers. Some schools may use a researcher as a nurse educator, while other facilities may have a need for someone to perform clinical trials. Many hospitals and scientific companies also use them, sometimes to conduct experiments in a laboratory-type setting. Some researchers may find themselves analyzing medical data for companies.

A nurse researcher may assist other researchers in a mental health facility. Facilities like this typically have several researchers work on large group studies. The nurse in this setting may help determine the effects of medications on patients with psychological conditions.


Most researchers generally have several years of experience as a nurse and then decide to focus on one special area. Others graduate from a nursing program and decide to continue their education with an emphasis on research. Some areas that a researcher may concentrate on could include cancer research, infectious diseases, or children's health issues.

In order to become a nurse researcher, a person usually needs a four-year nursing degree. In the United States, an advanced degree is often preferred, and in most cases, the candidate for this position would need to obtain a current nursing license. The majority of nursing programs include research classes.

Other qualifications a researcher may need are the ability to think fast and to be able to do several things at once. This position might also entail the researcher to work close with faculty, doctors, and staff. Being able to work well with others would be a valued skill.

A nursing profession is a good choice for those who desire to make a difference. Both analytical and laboratory skills are important aspects of this job. Individuals considering a career as a nurse researcher may want to first talk with other nurses to learn about the day-to-day demands of the position.


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Post 3

@browncoat - Well, that's the job though. I mean, either they are qualified to do it or they aren't. And most trials are double-blind now so the nurse won't have any control or knowledge of who is getting placebo and who isn't. Nurses fresh from university are often more passionate and have new ideas which is good.

But, I don't think most nursing research is trials anyway. I'd imagine the foundations of nursing research lie more in observation and gathering statistics than anything and aside from knowing the information gathering techniques that's not that different from standard nursing.

Post 2

This is the kind of role you'd want experienced nurses to participate in rather than those fresh out of university. Research is often even more difficult than standard nursing because it often involves people who are desperate for cures and who know you might be giving them a placebo. I can't even imagine the pressure that would put on a young nurse.

Post 1

This article is discussing the role of a research nurse rather than a nurse researcher. Though both are in research, the roles, educational preparation are different. This author needs to do further research on the topic. A nurse researcher is doctorally prepared (Phd) and is the principal investigator in the study.

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