While working as a nurse, there’ll frequently be times where you can have the chance to influence a patient’s life by assisting them with a chronic health problem, or helping them see that small lifestyle changes can make a big difference, especially over a long-term period. If you’re really motivated, you can even get involved in charity walks or similar events with the people who work alongside you. That helps your colleagues see that sometimes, seemingly tiny actions can cause a ripple effect in the community at large.
However, using your skills as a nurse to branch out into a research role is something that can make a lasting difference over several years, particularly if you discover something that ultimately improves patient care or safety. Research nursing is also something that’s started to gain prominence recently. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a department dedicated to the field, and at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, all baccalaureate students must fulfill a nursing research course requirement.
Areas of Focus
Currently, the NIH’s nursing research department targets a few specific areas: directions for end of life care, promoting health and preventing disease, eliminating health-related disparities, and improving quality of life. Their employees conduct their research both inside and outside of the NIH. If you’re considering a career in nursing research in the future, it’s important to be committed to continuing education opportunities. In addition to emerging industry developments, there are also trends uncovered within certain sociological groups that could change your findings, or the way that you gather data.
In the interest of reaching out to healthcare professionals, the NIH’s nursing research institute (officially known as the The National Institute of Nursing Research) frequently hosts conferences with topics that are of interest of the field. For example, they just held an event at the end of October that focused on the science behind health disparities, and are currently accepting applications for a genetics institute that will take place over a month next summer.
Working to Clarify Responsibilities
If you think that a career in nursing research would have you stuck in a laboratory all day, you wouldn’t be alone in that thought, but you’d be misguided. An associate professor at Johns Hopkins University admitted that some students who discuss nursing research with her forget that one of the most effective ways to learn about issues is by working with patients. In order to succeed, it’s essential for any sort of nurse to be very detail-oriented, diligent and able to handle a variety of responsibilities at any given moment. The world of nursing is very fast-paced and demanding, no matter which sector of it you choose to go into. However, if you’re seeking a way to combine an inquisitive personality with all those traits listed above, don’t overlook nursing research, or think that choosing it means that you won’t get to interact with patients.
Get a Job!
It’s good to get your feet wet by taking a nursing research course if one is available. To pursue the field further, look for employment opportunities, too. They’re easier to find than you might think. The National Institute of Nursing Research has opportunities listed on their website. No matter what, if you’re a nurse, you’re sure to improve lives on a regular basis. Take that passion a step further and find out more about nursing research today.
Kara Martin writes for nursing blogs that feature articles on nursing jobs and higher education including. Check out her piece on the top 10 most influential nurses in nursing from nursingdegree.org.