Research nurse moves beyond clinical research delivery to design and dissemination

Posted on by Kelly Gleason in Professional Development

I was pleased to talk at the Clinfield conference about developing the research nurse role beyond research delivery, and trying to find ways of getting involved with more of the broader research process. Research nurse roles generally are focussed on the ‘participant recruitment and data collection’ stage of research, however from generating research ideas and designing studies to disseminating the results there is much more to get involved with!

The idea for this presentation was based on my joint role as a research nurse and research fellow at Solent NHS Trust in Southampton in the community neuro rehab services.   In this role as well as typical research nurse tasks of setting up, recruiting to and managing studies, I also had many opportunities for involvement in research design and dissemination.  I took a lead role in promoting evidence-based practice among the neuro rehab clinical teams, for example by setting up and running a journal club.  In the research fellow role I was undertaking activities such as literature review, patient public involvement and ensuring study design was clear, feasible and acceptable (both to patients and research nurses!).  My overall role was therefore much broader and more varied than the research nurse roles I have had previously, and incorporated much more of the research process.

I have found this role very stimulating and discovered a lot of benefits to extending the research nurse role in this way. For example, I found my practical research nurse experience invaluable to helping design a feasible study.  Also, working with clinical staff to promote and enable evidence-based practice seemed to help me recruit more patients to the studies I was running as a research nurse – probably by building relationships and (hopefully!) enthusing them towards research.

I’d encourage research nurses to look for ways they could get involved in things like research design and dissemination because it is very interesting and rewarding, and we have lots of valuable knowledge, experience and skills to contribute. I think it would be great to develop more specialist research nurse roles which include things like advising on study design in the job description.  I’d be really keen to hear what other people think!


Caroline qualified as an adult nurse in 2007 and spent the first three years of her career in clinical nursing roles, firstly on a stroke ward and then in neuro intensive care. She moved into a stroke research nurse post in 2010 and stayed in research ever since. Her research nurse experience spans several clinical specialities including stroke, haematology, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  She is employed by Solent NHS Trust as a research nurse / research fellow in neurological rehabilitation but is currently seconded full time to undertake the MRes Clinical Research at City University.


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