1. Anonymous

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One of the benefits of nursing is its diversity. There are so many roles and we have the opportunity to change these roles if we so desire. While all of my roles have been in critical care, I am always looking for something different.


I had never been interested in research. I took the required courses to understand nursing research in both my undergraduate and graduate education. I found it repetitive and boring. Once I graduated, I swore I would never do research again. Six months later the research bug hit me-there is no vaccine to this bug.


Never did I realize I would start to miss research. I laughed at myself a lot. Me do research? I hate research. Or maybe I don't hate research. I started slowly, helping a clinical nurse specialist collect data. Then I changed jobs to a tertiary care hospital where research is expected. I became a research coordinator doing independent research as a nurse and working on national clinical trials with various principal investigators (PIs). I truly enjoyed the experience (yes, even the arguments with the PIs over who met inclusion and exclusion criteria). As this progressed, I began doing research of my own. I was the PI. I truly enjoyed this and shared my work with anyone who would listen, through lectures, posters, publications, etc. I helped students, mostly graduate students, with their research for their theses. This was a wonderful experience.


When I started trying to convert the majority of the nursing staff, I did it slowly. I think some of them wore garlic to keep me away. But I am persistent and I slowly edged my way into their units. I started with a journal club. We replicated other research studies. And then the big part: We did our own study, funded by an outside source.


As a research coordinator for national trials, I had the opportunity to travel to learn about the new drug/device. I was responsible for running the trial at the hospital. Most of the doctors do not know the protocol as well as a good research coordinator.


The following are only a few of the aspects I liked about being a research coordinator:


1. Reading and/or writing research proposals to see if they were conducive to our facility.


2. Sending protocols to the Institutional Review Board for approval.


3. Writing the informed consent.


4. Identifying potential participants.


5. Explaining the protocol to participants.


6. Actually doing the study.


7. Completing all necessary case review forms.


8. Statistical analysis (only the easy stuff-I used a statistician for the more difficult things).


9. Writing the report for publication.


10. Presenting the findings to the staff.



In all fairness, there are aspects about being a research coordinator I dislike:


1. Preparing for a visit by an auditor.


2. Preparing for a visit from someone from the Food and Drug Administration.


3. Getting all doctors in the group to follow the protocol.


4. Being on call 24/7 (with no call pay).


5. Arguing with doctors (although this may have been a perk).


6. Following the patients in the very long protocol and being unable to locate them. Many of our trials lasted up to 5 years. Keeping track of the patients could be frustrating.


7. Spending many evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays at the hospital trying to enroll patients or working with them through adverse events.


8. Doctors who decide to break protocol and then tell you about it.


9. Doctors who decide to break protocol and not tell you about it.




My life as a research coordinator is not always easy or fun, but it is challenging. I never know what to expect next. I know I will not always remain a research coordinator. I will find new challenges and roles in nursing, but doing research has been a great experience.