How to Become a Clinical Research Nurse: Salary, Jobs, Certification

Nurse records research dataA clinical research nurse performs studies and evaluates current care protocols and practices. These nurses also help develop new procedures that reflect the most recent research developments. Clinical research nurses work in hospitals and other institutions that provide direct care to patients.

Table of Contents
How to Become a Clinical Research Nurse
Education Requirements
Clinical Research Nurse Job Description
Career Options
Clinical Research Nurse Certification
Professional Organizations

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide information on clinical research nurses, but the website does publish an overview of registered nurses. Salary information courtesy of Salary.com.

Nurse Salary and Employment Data

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Source: BLS Wage Data by Area and Occupation. * or ** indicate insignificant or unavailable data.

Minimum Education Required Bachelor Degree in Nursing
Board Examinations needed NCLEX-RN, RN-BC
Average Annual Salary $60,908
# of Jobs (2012) 2,712,000
Job Outlook (2012 to 2022) 19% growth

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov and Salary.com http://www.salary.com.

How to become a clinical research nurse

The education and experience required to become a clinical research nurse include:

  • A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
  • Experience in a research or a related nursing field
  • Obtaining optional certification as a Clinical Research Professional (CRP) from the Society of Clinical Research Associates’ Certification Program

Education requirements

Most clinical research nurses start with a bachelor of science in a nursing program lasting four years. After passing the NCLEX-RN, nurses typically work closely with experienced clinical research nurses or in research institutions to gain expertise in all aspects of clinical research.

Many clinical research nurses take extra courses in research methodology, computer use, or to advance their knowledge in specific areas of medicine related to the research they would like to perform. Nurses interested in reducing healthcare-acquired infections, for example, may take extra coursework in epidemiology.

Clinical research nurses may pursue certification as clinical research professionals from the Society of Clinical Research Associates’ Certification Program. Candidates for certification must have two years experience as a full-time clinical research professional or 3,500 hours working part-time as such, or have a degree in clinical research or hold an associate degree or BSN from an accredited school. Candidates must then pass an exam.

Job description

A clinical research nurse helps perform research to determine the safety and effectiveness of medications, medical devices, diagnostic products and treatment protocols. The goal of a clinical research nurse is to improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment and patient outcomes overall.

The primary duties of a clinical research nurse are to help develop protocol for a study, including determining the focus of the study, how to measure results and the tests participants must undergo for the study. Clinical research nurses are often responsible for recruiting patients, attaining patient consent and filling out appropriate application forms. These nurses also collect data and report safety issues. In some cases, clinical research nurses collect tissue and body fluid samples.

Clinical research nurses report to nursing supervisors and lead researchers.

Career options

Typical workplaces for clinical research nurses include:

  • Hospitals
  • University medical centers
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Medical device companies

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide statistics specific to clinical research nurses, the site does detail the job outlook for registered nurses. BLS predicts employment of registered nurses to increase 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than for all other occupations.

Certification information

The Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA) offers a voluntary certification program to its members. Those who pass the exam may use the title “Certified Clinical Research Professional” or “CCRP (SOCRA)” to earn recognition from the clinical research community.

Candidates for certification must have two years experience as a full-time clinical research professional or 3,500 hours working part time as such, or have a degree in clinical research or hold an associate or BSN from an accredited school.

Candidates must pass the clinical research exam with a score of at least 102 correct answers out of 130 questions.

CCRP professionals must maintain membership in SOCRA and complete 45 hours of continuing education during the three-year certification period, with at least 22 of those 45 hours relating to clinical research policies and regulations.

Professional organizations

Society of Clinical Research Associates: https://www.socra.org/certification/certification-program-overview/introduction/