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Clinical Research Jobs for Nurses

Updated on July 11, 2009

If there’s one industry with a recession-proof employment status, it would be the healthcare industry. Like it or not, health is essential to every person, and is even considered a priceless wealth. Thus, every field of healthcare – from treatment to nursing – is an evergreen pasture that’s worth exploring.

Among the many aspects of the healthcare industry, nursing perhaps offers the widest field to explore. From a global standpoint, nurses are highly in demand as most advanced countries’ aging populations are increasing. This population trend tends to give rise to more and more nursing homes and homes for the aged. Nursing opportunities therefore will continue to abound in this healthcare niche.

But nursing careers will not only flourish in the hospital and clinical setting, but also in the field of clinical research. The advent of technological innovations in the field of medicine and clinical research has brought with it various career opportunities for healthcare professionals, particularly nurses.

The field of clinical research has been steadily flourishing during the past several years; and with its growth, jobs for nurses have also increased. So if you’re a nurse, and are looking for a job; or are planning to shift your career to the lucrative field of clinical research, this hub provides a primer on the various jobs available for nurses in this healthcare niche.

Clinical Research Associate (CRA)

Probably the most in demand clinical research post, the CRA position is great for nurses who enjoy traveling, as it involves a significant amount of travel. This post is usually offered by pharmaceutical companies, as well as contract research organizations (CRO’s) conducting clinical trials.

The main responsibilities of a CRA include coordinating with medical facilities where a clinical trial is to be set up, facilitating the conduct of the clinical trial, as well as making sure that data are gathered and entered by clinical research coordinators (CRC’s) into either paper or electronic case report forms (CRF’s) according to the study protocol. This job offers a substantial compensation package that usually comes with attractive fringe benefits like a car plan, travel opportunities, and flexible work schedules.

Coding Specialist / Medical Coder

This post is also a very fitting job for nurses in the field of clinical research, although it can be filled by pharmacists as well. This coding job is different from medical billing, as it entails medical coding of adverse events reported and concomitant medications used in a clinical trial.

Adverse events are coded to medical dictionaries recognized by drug regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA). Although several dictionaries were used in the past, the Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Affairs (MedDRA) is now used in the U.S., European Union, and Japan. Prior and concomitant medications, on the other hand, are coded to the WHODrug dictionary.

Both drug companies and CRO’s also offer medical coding jobs. However, you may need to undergo training on how to code adverse events and concomitant medications using the MedDRA and the WHODrug dictionaries, respectively. You can find online training courses though, being offered by various companies, including KRGI, and IBPA. Incidentally, these companies also provide listings of clinical research jobs posted by various biotech and drug companies, as well as contract research organizations (CRO’s).

Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC)

A Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC) is generally a Registered Nurse employed by a hospital (site) mainly assigned to facilitate conduct of a clinical trial sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. The CRC is responsible for recruitment and screening of study participants, collecting and entering data into paper CRF’s or eCRF’s (forms are accessed through an online database) and coordinating with the sponsor through the CRA.

Medical Writer

If you have an interest and talent in writing, you can also consider this clinical research job, as having a nursing degree can give you an edge over other writers. But you may need to have solid writing experience and exceptional writing skills in order to be considered for this job.

Clinical Data Manager

Although primarily an IT professional is needed for this post, more and more nurses are also filling it these days. However, as this job entails management of data obtained from a clinical trial, if you’re a nurse, you need to have some specialized computer knowledge and skills like basic programming, to be able to qualify for, and pursue this career.

Clinical Project Manager (CPM)

This is another clinical research job that, albeit quite far from nursing, can still be filled by nurses who want to pursue a career in clinical research. But you need to have experience and skills pertaining to program or project management, and/or a master’s degree in order to qualify for this post.

These six clinical research jobs are offered in many countries that have numerous pharmaceutical companies as well as CRO’s conducting clinical trials. If you are working in a hospital and want to pursue a career in clinical research, you can easily apply for a CRC post. And once a CRC, you’re but a step away to becoming a CRA if you want to. To enhance your qualifications, you may also seek to be certified as a CRA, a CRC a Coding Specialist, or a Clinical Data Manager, by undergoing a training which you can avail online.


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      Jimijika Batani 6 years ago

      This is very interesting. I did not realise that there were so many opportunities for nurses. I have been a Study Coordinator for an HIV Prevention Trial for 9 years and was wondering if I can fit in any of those positions. The other thing is I'm not sure if this is extended to International Nurses as well because right now I'm in Zimbabwe.

    • profile image

      Kim Lamson 6 years ago

      Clinical Research gave me the opportunity to further enhance my skills in research. I'm a nurse but sad to say, hard enough for me to even absorbed in the hospital since volunteer training is very much common here in the Philippines and there's no assurance that you'll be hired.There's a lot more for nurses. Be patient and hardworking.

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 8 years ago from Philippines

      You have a strong employment background, yogita, thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      yogita 8 years ago

      Yogita Pawar I have 6 yrs experience in hospital and 2 yrs in clinical reasearch as a staff nurse

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 8 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks a lot for sharing that, frogyfish. Hope your daughter finds the right job for her.

      Hi, Peggy, thank you for dropping by to.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      So many choices now for nurses which is good.

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 9 years ago from Central United States of America

      You give a good positive note to the possibilities here.  Though I have an RN daughter who worked several years in CCCU - cardiac intensive care unit- got burned out with lack of/and over of unnamed situations - now she is working researching hospital records, wants to eventually try to get back to where she used to love it...It is the same old line - overwork, and uncaring management. Sad stories.


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