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Nurse Researcher – Degree Requirements and Career Information

Higher Education Articles October 19, 2013

Nurse research is a field in which nurses work as scientists in an effort to improve healthcare outcomes through scientific experiments and research projects. The job description, career outlook, average salary and education requirements of nurse researchers are described in detail below.


Nurses with an affinity for research and the scientific method may enjoy a career as a nurse researcher. Nurse researchers don’t spend as much time in direct contact with patients as other registered nurses do, but they can have a significant and positive effect on the field of healthcare as a whole. When a research project is successful, the results may change the way registered nurses working in the field care for their patients, thus improving patients’ experiences and outcomes.

Nurses who work in research must understand all of the issues involved in caring for patients, as well as the steps involved in conducting an experiment and preparing a report. They must also know how to communicate the important aspects of their results to the healthcare community.

Work Environment and Job Duties

Nurse researchers may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private laboratories and universities. Unlike many other specialized nurses, nurse researchers often work set shifts during the day. However, in some instances, a nurse researcher may need to conduct research at night. For example, nurses studying sleep patterns or labor and delivery outcomes may be required to work night shifts. A nurse researcher’s job is extremely structured and methodical, but also challenging. Nurses working in this specialty must be prepared to analyze their results, think critically and devise plans for further study.

On the job, a nurse researcher may perform the following functions:

•Perform laboratory experiments
•Interview patients
•Observe patient care or treatment procedures
•Collect and analyze data from experiments
•Collect and analyze data about patient outcomes
•Prepare research plans
•Write reports about results obtained during projects or experiments
•Present results to colleagues and other healthcare professionals

Requirements and Education

The first step to becoming a nurse researcher involves obtaining a nursing degree, which may be an associate’s in nursing or a bachelor of science in nursing. Most nurses spend some time working in the field after obtaining a nursing degree before pursuing a career in nursing research. After or during your time in the field, you may purse a research degree, or you may begin working as an assistant to an existing nurse researcher. After significant training and experience, you may be able to become a principal investigator, which allows you to make decisions about the issues you’d like to investigate and the experiments or projects you want to complete.

Salary and Career Outlook

Nurse researchers earn an average salary of $95,000 per year. However, this figure may vary based on your exact job description, location and employer. Healthcare research is a growing field that is unlikely to become obsolete at any time in the future, so job openings in this field are likely to increase, especially for nurses who show promise by completing successful research projects during training.

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