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Nurse Scientist

I posted a question earlier about nursing vs. medical laboratory science as I have an interest in both careers. I stumbled over this profession when I searched if there was any way I could combine nursing and laboratory science/ research. What does the typical day of work look like for a nurse scientist/nurse researcher? Do they get to dabble in both professions, or is it more so one track and strictly in research ? What are the school requirements for this career?
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I failed to mention in the question above that I already have a BS in Biology and I’m currently in school receiving a second bachelor’s in nursing. To clarify, I want to know specifically about a career in nurse research. What is a typical day like? Is there flexibility where I could do research and also work actively as a nurse? After receiving a BSN what are my next steps? Nikeia S.

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Laurie C.’s Answer

I recommend reaching out to the Technical College System of Alabama to see if they offer such programs. In the State of Georgia, in the most recent college I taught at, they offer associate of science degrees in both registered nursing and clinical laboratory. For both professions, you will need to have a strong foundation in human anatomy and physiology and microbiology. Some tasks may overlap between the two professions, such a phlebotomy. Nursing tends to involve more direct patient care or interaction, while clinical laboratory associates have more indirect interaction with patients. They are more involved in running ordered tests and providing the clinicians with test results. A technical college would be more cost effective, i.e. cost less and are designed to be two year programs. Registered nurses make a respectable income and have some flexibility in places of employment (urgent care, doctor's offices, skilled nursing facilities, hospitals and some research facilities), whereas clinical laboratory associates tend to work where bodily fluids are collected and processed. Keep in mind, registered nurses are in high demand and there are a shortage of them, so they tend to work very long hours. I hope this information helps.

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Corin’s Answer

Hey Nikeia! I found your question so compelling because my background is in clinical lab science, but I am an RN. Although I did study clinical lab science, I did not ultimately pursue that as a career. Unlike nursing, the job opportunities in that field are not as plentiful. That may have been an issue for me, but if it is something you are passionate about do not let that deter you, just be aware.

I will also say the two careers may collaborate to some extent, but they are two very independent skill sets. It is very important in today's medical field that each profession be as knowledgeable as possible in their specialty while having a high level understanding of other specialties. In other words, if you choose nursing, you will have an understanding of the lab part, but unlikely will fully participate in that portion of the research.

My advice would be, determine what you are truly passionate about and what suits you. Then pursue that wholeheartedly. I miss working in a lab, but it wasn't the right fit for me in terms of career opportunities. Talk to people in the field, look at what your wants and needs are, then make a choice about what route to go.

Thank you so much! Nikeia S.

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Corin’s Answer

To answer you question, yes, I think you will be a perfect fit for this role:

https://clinicalcenter.nih.gov/nursing/crn/crn_2010.html#:~:text=In%20addition%20to%20providing%20and,data%20recording%20and%20follow%20up.


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