How to Become a Nurse Researcher

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The nursing field is very complex and extensive research activities are required to improve practices. Nurse researchers are registered nurses that participate in a variety of research tasks to gain a better understanding on medical conditions and to seek ways to improve patient health, medical services, and healthcare outcomes.


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What does a nurse researcher do?

Nurse researchers identify specific research inquiries, design and conduct research activities, and analyze and translate the findings to implement new practices. They publish research studies based on collected data on a variety of nursing, medical, and pharmaceutical practices. They assist with finding solutions to clinical programs and delivering healthcare services in a more efficient and effective manner. They also help with writing medical articles and grant proposals. Nurse researchers are responsible for sharing their research findings with the healthcare community. Many nurse researchers collaborate with professionals from other fields to better address complex issues. Some nurse researchers teach in clinical and academic settings.

What kind of training does a nurse researcher need?

Nurse researchers typically need at least a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and a current registered nurse license. Some employers prefer applicants with at least a Master of Science in Nursing and sufficient experience. Many nurse researchers complete Research Nurse certification programs. The certification programs typically include courses in health informatics, research integrity, descriptive and inferential statistics, research for evidence-based practice, and ethics for advanced practice nursing. Most nurse researchers gain the Research Nurse certification from the Society of Research Associates. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Nurse researchers must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications and keep up with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a nurse researcher?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Technological advances and increased demand for advanced research will drive job growth of nurse researchers.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for nurse researchers with professional certification and extensive experience. Numerous job openings will stem from the need to replace nurse researchers that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do nurse researchers make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for nurse researchers is $62,000; average annual nurse researcher salaries vary greatly on location, industry, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a nurse researcher is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in the nursing field and performing a variety of research tasks. Nurse researchers must have a solid understanding of nursing and research practices. Patience, determination, perseverance, critical thinking, and good problem solving skills are essential. Nurse researchers must be able to think quickly and be efficient at multi-tasking. They must have excellent communication and ability to work with a variety of other professionals.

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