How does an RN with a background in ophthalmology get a job in research? | News

I’m a charge nurse in ophthalmology and have an interest in working in research. Can you tell me where to start or how to go about applying for employment as a nurse researcher?


There are several different ways and places to work in research. If you work in a hospital that has a research department, simply let the department director or nurse manager know you are interested in working there. You dont need any special experience to make the transition. Also, let your nurse manager know of your interest. She may even be able to help you.


Research also is done in some outpatient practice settings such as medical offices, clinics and universities. Since you have a background in ophthalmology, I would suggest you contact large ophthalmology practices or clinics and the ophthalmology department of medical schools to see about opportunities in research. Colleges of nursing have research departments too.


You also could explore opportunities in pharmaceutical research. If that is what you are interested in, be sure to do some informational interviewing with other nurses working with nurses working in the specialty or practice setting to better understand what they do. There is often a fair amount of travel involved.


The position title might be clinical research assistant or clinical monitor. Find these nurses by asking around, doing some online research such as on LinkedIn. These positions exist working directly for a specific pharmaceutical company or for contract research organizations. Most positions are filled through word of mouth so start asking around to find someone who knows someone who works in any capacity for a pharmaceutical company. You can contact a pharmaceutical company directly and ask to speak to their nurse or healthcare recruiter. Entry-level positions can provide research training.


Some healthcare employment agencies also place nurses in part- time and temp positions in the research specialty. This is a good way to try out a specialty, gain some experience and get a foot in the door. Part-time and temp positions often lead to full-time regular employment.


Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.coms Dear Donna. and author of Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional and The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career. Information about the books is available at


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