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A week in the life of a research nurse


Ever wondered what a research nurse’s job is all about? Nellie Daura lets us follow her around on a typical week …



It’s 9am and my working day has started. I have a site initiation visit this afternoon, so I do some reading of the study protocol in preparation. The study is oncology related; as the research nurse treating the patients I have a huge protocol to get to grips with before the study starts recruiting patients. At 12:30 I leave for the underground to get to the hospital. The SIV starts at 1.30pm but I don’t want to take any chances. Turns out it’s just as well because the train board displays delays on the train and next one is 10 minutes late. Typical! I arrive at the meeting venue and meet the CRAs in the reception area. The SIV progresses well, meeting the rest of the team and ironing out the recruitment pathway. I am taken on an orientation around the facility and I meet other staff I will come across while working at the hospital.


I have a home visit provisionally scheduled for today but my patient may be going into hospital for treatment optimisation. I receive a text from the patient letting me know he will be in hospital for five days, so I cancel the appointment and immediately contact the research nurse at the hospital to confirm the team there will take the required blood sample within protocol specified window. Once that is done I set out to the other hospital, a 15 minutes walk away, where I have a part-time contract to manage a study database. I have a weekly teleconference with my colleagues, the research team manager and the other research nurses from During the teleconference I give them an update on the previous day’s SIV and on my other projects and listen to their news. Following that, I email my training requests for a new project and I spend the rest of the day working through medical notes and patient visit forms to update the database.


On the move again. Early start for a home visit to collect a blood sample, car booked for 9.30am. As I’m driving down the A13 towards the M25, I see that the traffic on the opposite side of the road is not moving and a jam is forming, so I decide there and then to use a different route on my return otherwise I’ll be stuck in traffic all day. I arrive at the patient’s home, ring head office to check in as per policy and then proceed to collect the blood sample. As I finish I ring to check out with head office and get on the road; blood has to be processed within 2hrs of collection, so I have to keep moving. I use the A2 back into London to avoid the traffic. Back at the home office, I ring the courier and arrange for a collection as soon as possible. They tell me it will happen in an hour and a half. I centrifuge the blood and complete paperwork, pack the sample and set it aside for the courier. While I wait I decide to read through the protocol of another study that I’ll be working on. Once the courier collects the sample, I make my way to the hospital to work on the database for a couple of hours.


Today is a busy day, I have an appraisal meeting with my manager late afternoon. Before I go, I need to do as much work on the database as possible because the CRA gave us a deadline for all the data for the study patients to be up to date. It is lovely to meet with the research nurse team manager, as we are all field based, though we speak on the phone regularly we make the most of face to face catch up time. The appraisal goes well, we catch up briefly then I leave. What a long day but all is well that ends well!


I don’t have any appointments today, which is good because I have to catch up on some admin. I have emails to reply to, training dates to follow up on, catch up on the protocol and ICH-GCP study. Quick as anything it’s 5pm and my working week is over.

Nellie Daura is a senior research nurse at


Readers' comments (4)

  • Wow Nellie

    Do you fancy swapping research roles with me? I am absolutely swamped and work roughly from 8am - 6.30pm every day. You sound like you have a lovely life

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  • Monday 06:00 - woken up by my child screaming and wanting to get up. In work by 07:30 to randomise a patient to see if we can save their bowel. Complete paperwork and send that to the CTU by 11:30. Sort out the drug the patient needs and set that up. Monitor the patient for two hours then take bloods. Spin the bloods and then head for Molecular Biology to freeze them. On the way back meet for 5 minutes with my line manager who wants to add to my ten trials with a pharma one. Excellent. 3:15pm get some lunch. Check on the patient on the drug then meet with another patient regarding another trial. Give them the information and agree to see them tomorrow. 16:10 get back to the office to check my emails. Consultant wants to meet at 17:00 to discuss new trials. Answer a few emails from the weekend and start an SSIF for another new trial for later in the year. 17:00 meet the consultant. 18:40 give up for the day and arrange to come in for a breakfast meeting with a drug rep. 08:00 start if that is OK? Walk home four miles, kiss the wife hello, check my baby is asleep, take the dog for a walk then come home and discuss my wife's day.

    That is Day 1 and is almost as long as your week, can I swap too please?

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  • It is quite interesting to hear your opinions of your jobs as research nurses in different environments. We all have different job desciptions somewhat tailored to your companies needs.

    Feel free to contact the company I work for should you desire a change.

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  • Thanks for this article. I just got a new job as a research nurse and am excited could anyone tell me more about what to expect the up's and down of the job and how you cope in times like this.

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