Opportunities for Nurses in Clinical Research

In the past couple of years, the nursing profession has been riding a rollercoaster. Fueled by a global pandemic and labor shortages, the profession has seen its fair share of trauma in a short timeframe. 

Simply working in a high-stress environment (particularly the emergency department or intensive care unit) where decisions can be life-altering, can in itself be stressful and lead to burnout. But there is more to the narrative.

For burnt-out nurses needing a change, clinical trial management careers are a great fit for their skills while providing a more stable, low-stress day-to-day. Clinical trials across New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have growing opportunities for nurses who want to change gears.

A Recipe for Burnout

We’ve all heard stories of nurses being pushed to their limits while working long hours. Consecutive overtime shifts with little or no breaks lead to physical and mental exhaustion. Being responsible for too many patients at one time increases the burden. Add issues like personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages and unrealistic expectations, creating a recipe for industry-wide burnout. 

The Impact of Burnout

Burnt-out nurse resting head on hands

Burnout at this level is concerning for multiple reasons.

  1. It impacts everyone in the healthcare ecosystem.
  2. It could lead to inconsistent care and potentially inferior care. 
  3. It impacts the quality of care and could severely impact patient outcomes.
  4. It pushes great nurses into other professions.

This is a loss to patients. It’s also a loss for hospitals and clinics that must recruit and hire new resources to fill the vacancies. Hiring and onboarding are expensive and time-consuming efforts. 

Skilled nursing professionals are not easy to find. Many nurses are reevaluating their career choices and re-thinking how and where they want to work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 3 million registered nurses in the U.S. Though an average of 194,500 openings are expected each year through 2030, the demand for nurses is expected to outpace supply because of people leaving the profession and retiring. 

Reducing Nurse Burnout

There are plenty of recommendations to address burnout. Most require organizational attention and a commitment to supporting overburdened nurses in meaningful ways.

Recognizing the problem is great, but it’s only the first step. 

Improving Communication

Improving communications tops the list of recommendations. Advice urges nurse managers to create transparency. They should promote an open-door policy for nurses to share professional and personal challenges. In doing so, managers can potentially address resource allocation, training, or other factors that may be making the situation worse. 

Employee Support Programs

Employee support programs such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga can help to address nurse burnout. Taking a moment to breathe and assess a situation can help clarify options. It can also improve decision-making in stressful hospital environments. 

Self-Care Support

Self-care is a critical factor that ultimately is the responsibility of the nurse. However, the organization can support better self-care with educational programs and support services. Plus, organizations can create a supportive culture by:

  • Recognizing a nurse’s efforts
  • Rewarding their professional performance
  • Supporting their efforts to delegate work
  • Setting boundaries

A New Opportunity

Sometimes burnout requires a more significant change. Many nurses consider other professions. For these professionals, clinical research presents an interesting opportunity. They can leverage their existing skillsets and find job satisfaction. Plus, it removes many of the factors that contributed to burnout. 

A Key Opportunity for Nurses in Clinical Trial Management 

Nurses at clinical trial

Clinical research represents a great opportunity for nurses looking for a new challenge. Research organizations (hospitals, clinics, and academic institutions) routinely conduct clinical trials. Trials play an important role in bringing new therapies, medicines, and medical devices to people in need. 

Clinical trials study:

  • New drugs, biologics, or medical devices that are not yet approved by the FDA (or other health authorities)
  • New uses for already approved products
  • New ways to administer products
  • New tests to diagnose illnesses
  • New procedures to address symptoms.

There are numerous clinical trial administration roles with opportunities for patient interaction and care. At the same time, they can reduce the hours/shifts required and the number of patients they are caring for.  For example, the Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC) is a critical role in clinical research and trials.

What Do Clinical Research Coordinators Do?

CRCs assist the principal investigator (PI) and work with the department, sponsor, and institution to ensure trial compliance. They also:

  • Screen subjects
  • Communicate trial requirements to participants
  • Coordinate tests and procedures.

In this way, CRCs interact with all clinical trial stakeholders. They maintain the study timelines and ensure compliance with relevant regulations.

Camaraderie and Purpose

As a member of a clinical trial team, the CRC works with colleagues from various organizations with an array of backgrounds. Being part of a study team often offers a sense of camaraderie.

As teams work toward the common goal of a successful trial, they build relationships that add meaning to their work. This and common goals inject purpose into their tasks.

Patient Interaction on a Stable Schedule

Clinical trial CRCs have the opportunity for ongoing patient interactions throughout the trial. But unlike nursing, they typically have predictable hours with weekends and holidays off.

This is a huge benefit and a big change for nurses who work double shifts and holidays. 

Growth Potential

CRCs perform a wide variety of trial-related tasks. Thus, they have opportunities to work independently and expand their skill sets. This can lead to job satisfaction and growth potential. 

New Opportunities for Nurses in Clinical Research

The Clinical Research Coordinator is one of many roles that nurses can fill throughout the clinical research industry. Some roles support the patient experience while others may be more compliance-focused.

As clinical trials move toward decentralized or hybrid models, it’s important to engage patients through new channels. Trial teams are starting to use new technologies to collect, track and manage the patient experience. So, telehealth trial visits are increasingly common. New technologies, new processes, and innovative science call nurses toward a meaningful career. One where they can learn, grow, and boost their quality of life while contributing to much-needed new medicines. 

If you are a nurse in NY, NJ, or PA interested in learning more about a career in clinical research, contact Vitalief today. We can help you find a meaningful career path that offers growth and flexibility.

The Shift to Hybrid and Virtual Clinical Trials

During the regional lock-downs of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine became a popular option for patients to see and interact with healthcare providers without visiting their offices. The initial motivation to move to telemedicine was to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and enhance patient safety. Since then, telemedicine and other tools have gained popularity and provided exceptional support for patients in a remote setting. 

In a parallel track, the conduct of virtual clinical trials has also become extremely popular. Before the pandemic, there was interest in exploring the possibility of virtual trials. However, the pandemic is what truly pushed research teams to “think outside the box” and make significant progress toward complete virtual trials. Site closures, quarantines, travel limitations, and supply chain issues for investigational products made it difficult for clinical trial teams to meet protocol-specified procedures such as protocol-mandated lab or diagnostic tests or healthcare visits.  

Academic institutions and clinical researchers around the world quickly pivoted and designed new ways to interact with clinical trial participants. New technologies emerged, and existing technologies were enhanced or used in new ways. The result was a renewed interest in improving the patient experience and helping research teams engage patients remotely. In March 2020, the US FDA released “Conduct of Clinical Trials of Medical Products During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Guidance for Industry, Investigators, and Institutional Review Boards.” The guidance was updated numerous times throughout the pandemic, with August 30, 2021, as the most recent update. 

Virtual Clinical Trials Today

Today, electronic data capture (EDC), wearables, and other devices for electronic patient-reported outcomes (ePRO), remote eConsent, and telehealth enable remote patient participation. However, some clinical trials in therapeutic areas such as oncology require periodic patient visits for imaging, biopsies, and other medical procedures that require specialized equipment or expertise. These clinical trials are typically designed as hybrid trials where some patient visits are conducted at a site facility, and some are via telehealth. A recent Science 37 Survey suggests that 77% of research executives expect to conduct clinical trials using remote patient monitoring, eConsent, ePros, telemedicine, wearable devices, and mobile nurses in the next 12 months. 

Clinical researchers hope that virtual trials will reduce the patient burden and potentially lead to the acquisition and retention of expanded trial populations that are more diverse. To ensure that clinical trial participants represent the patients that will use a medical product, many clinical trial teams seek participants from more diverse and inclusive populations. Virtual clinical trials may provide a mechanism to connect with previously underrepresented groups, including racial and ethnic minorities and people of different ages. 

The potential benefits of conducting virtual and hybrid trials for patients are significant. That doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges, especially for site teams who must learn new procedures and technologies used within the clinical trial ecosystem.

telemedicine appointment

Let Vitalief Help You Move Towards Virtual and Hybrid Clinical Trials

The pandemic truly motivated the clinical research industry to make significant strides in virtual clinical research. There is still a great deal to learn. But the industry has proven that open-mindedness, creative thinking, enabling technologies, and commitment, have enabled researchers and health authorities to pivot quickly and deliver innovative medicines to patients with unmet needs.

Not sure how to navigate your organization towards a virtual or hybrid clinical trial? Let Vitalief offer support and guidance to help your organization shift towards future clinical trials. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions and how we can assist with hiring the right staff, clinical trial support, processes, and more.