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Research nursing offers attractive career options, enabling nurses to use core nursing skills, contribute to the development of new evidence and improve patient care.

Opportunities for development may include senior researching roles, leading teams or research facilities (akin to the ward manager role), education or even being principal investigator on studies. Working in research may lead you to become interested in an academic career, and pursue a PhD, or a Professional Doctorate to become an independent nurse researcher.

Considering a role within research?

Nurses within research provide and deliver high quality patient care to support the delivery of clinical research studies within a service or department.

Duties could include preparing trial protocols and other trial-related documentation, helping to develop new drugs, treatments, care pathways or regimens for patients, dealing with data collection, submitting study proposals for regulatory approval, and coordinating the initiation, management and completion of the research, managing a team, or working in academia.

Examples of jobs within Research:

  • Clinical Research Nurse (CRN)
  • Research and Development Nurse
  • Research midwife
  • Research Sister / Charge Nurse
  • Senior clinical research nurse
  • Research Manager
  • Research Associate
  • Lecturer
  • Clinical Academic
  • Joint Clinical Nurse Specialist and Clinical Research Nurse
  • Independent Nurse Researcher 

If you're interested in research roles...

  • See the RCN's Research and innovation section of the website for news, resources and country specific information.
  • Most trusts or organisations will have a Research and Development department who can put you in touch with the lead clinical research nurse. Ask them about shadowing or short term work placements.
  • Find out if there's any work, projects or initiatives around research / quality improvement / innovation going on, and ask to be involved.
  • Join the RCN Research Society and have a look at the RCN's dedicated Research and Innovation resources.
  • Contact relevant organisations and companies to arrange informal visits, to gain more info, insight and contacts.
  • Shadow nurses in various research roles.. This could be through your networking, informal visits or through your current employer.
  • Use your contacts, colleagues, etc. to get in touch with nurses working in research. Ask them if you can take their contact details for future reference.
  • Study research vacancies and identify what experience and skills employers want. Some band 5 posts may not require prior experience in research.
  • Speak to your manager for support, and make sure any goals or aspirations are documented in your 121s.
  • See if your employer offers mentoring or coaching, or has any career frameworks. 

Nursing Career Resource

For more information about the desired qualifications, education, skills and experience needed to transition into Research Nursing, see the Research section of the RCN's Nursing Career Resource which includes videos, case studies, links, and loads of further resources. 

eHealth and digital roles

The effective use of information and digital technologies is a key enabler in delivering health and social care.

Find out more about current and emerging digital roles within nursing, and the digital tools that nurses are developing or implementing in the workplace..

RCN Research and Innovation 

Resources, information, useful links and more 


Information on digital health, telehealth, online health, telecare, eCare, mHealth, ICTs and the RCN eHealth forum.

The RCN Research Society

Transforming patient care through an evidence-informed profession


Video case studies on different digital roles, including profiles, career options, courses, and entry requirements

Research and Innovation Bulletin

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