The NIHR Senior Research Leader: Nursing & Midwifery Programme aims to place nurses and midwives at the forefront of health and care research, raising their profile and affirming their contribution to the wider research community.
Nurses and Midwives
Nurses and midwives are by far the largest group of health and care professionals and have an unparalleled contribution to clinical research and making a real difference to patients’ lives.
The NIHR Nursing and Midwifery Incubator has been established to accelerate capacity building and support the development of a skilled clinical academic research workforce across the nursing and midwifery professions.
Starting your career in research
What opportunities are there for a nurse or midwife to get involved in research?
Nurses and midwives can get involved through supporting research, finding out about research studies underway in their ward or department, and making sure patients and members of the public are given opportunities to take part.
Nurses and midwives can also join the fantastic research delivery team; clinical research nurses and midwives play a vital role in delivering and leading research, and improving patient care. Their responsibilities include inviting patients and healthy participants to join research studies including clinical trials, providing nursing care, undertaking study procedures and developing new drugs, treatments, care pathways or regimens.
There are also opportunities for nurses working in social care to engage with research. Find out more on our social care practitioners page.
The Census for Registered Clinical Research Nurses and Midwives, conducted by the NIHR in partnership with the devolved nation research nursing and midwifery leads and the Irish Research Nurse and Midwives Network, shows there are at least 7,469 clinical research nurses and midwives across the UK and Ireland with opportunities to join the profession at every level, and potential for career progression.
Find out more about why you should be considering a career in research nursing in our blog from 70@70 leader Helen Moore and her daughter Lucy: Inspiring the next generation of research nurses - a mother and daughter’s experience
Research Nurses and Midwives and COVID-19
During the many COVID-19 related studies, clinical nurses and midwives worked alongside research nurses and midwives to get new studies up and running.
During the pandemic, research nurses and midwives have been instrumental in supporting vaccine studies and vital treatment studies such as Recovery and REMAP-CAP, which led to the now widespread and global use of steroids in hospitalised patients. We continue to anticipate and meet emerging challenges and opportunities for nurses and midwives to improve health outcomes through research.
Read the NIHR Nursing & Midwifery Associate Directors reflections on how research nurses have responded to the global pandemic.
How can I get started in my research career?
- Contact your local Clinical Research Network for more information on research taking place in your area
- Search for the latest research nursing and midwifery roles visit NHS jobs
- Find out more about taking your first step into research delivery.
- Staying up to date with the latest research evidence is a great way to inform your practice. Nurses and midwives can access the latest updates on the NIHR Evidence website.
Developing your career in research with the NIHR
Nurses and midwives can access clinical academic career development opportunities through the Integrated Clinical Award (ICA) pathway, delivered in partnership with Health Education England.
We support the development of a skilled clinical academic research workforce across nursing and midwifery through our NIHR Nursing and Midwifery Incubator programme.
Find out more about our research training awards, offered through the HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme and NIHR Fellowships Programme.
Learning and support
All research staff are also required to undertake training to ensure they meet the standards set out in the Good Clinical Practice guidelines for clinical trials, which in England can be accessed via NIHR Learn.
Find out more about NIHR learning and support opportunities.
Nursing and Midwifery at the NIHR
The NIHR Nursing and Midwifery vision is to inspire nurses and midwives to improve health outcomes through research.The two aims for 2022-24 are:
- to enable nurses who support, deliver or lead research to develop, and work to their potential
- to develop a pipeline of research nurses and midwives
There are a number of projects underway to address these aims, including career pathway development for all health and social care settings where nurses are engaged with research. Supporting, delivering and leading research are valued equally by NIHR Nursing & Midwifery.
NIHR Nursing and Midwifery initiatives
Senior Research Leader: Nursing & Midwifery Programme
The NIHR Senior Research Leader: Nursing & Midwifery Programme aims to empower nurse and midwife leaders to increase research capacity and capability at a local, regional and national level. Our cohort of senior research leaders (SRLs) use their experience to drive transformation within the NIHR and the wider healthcare landscape.
The SRL programme will recruit nurses and midwives on an annual basis, through a competitive application process, with nurses and midwives remaining on the programme for three years. Information about applications for the second cohort of SRL’s will be available later in 2023.
70@70 Senior Nurse and Midwife Research Leader Programme
The three year 70@70 Research Leader programme, named as such to celebrate 70 years of the NHS, concluded in March 2022. The programme was aimed at senior nurses and midwives to promote the importance of a vibrant integrated research culture.
The 70@70 programme implemented over 300 different research initiatives and reached at least 3000 nurses and midwives. Our leaders championed innovation and informed research priorities in their organisations. It increased the support, delivery and leadership of research by nurses and midwives across different parts of the health and care delivery system.
Examples of local and national achievements from the previous 70@70 SNMRL cohort include:
- James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership for Community Nursing
- Census of nurses and midwives who identify as research nurses and midwives
- Development and testing of an embedded researcher model, resulting in funding for senior clinical academic posts
- Development of a research champion model for community services and a research ambassador model in an acute Trust
- Development of a ward accreditation programme with research KPIs
- Increase in the number of nurses and midwives taking on PI roles, leading to more study sites being opened
Reproductive Health and Childbirth Champions
Reproductive Health and Childbirth Champions are research midwives and nurses, one or more in each Local Clinical Research Network, who use their experience to deliver research that benefits patients, fosters collaborative learning and provides learning and professional development opportunities. They are an integral part of the NIHR Reproductive Health and Childbirth Specialty Group.
Stakeholders and Partnerships
NIHR Nursing and Midwifery work closely with NHS England’s Chief Nursing Office to ensure that our values and vision relating to research for nursing and midwifery are aligned. The recently published CNO’s Strategic Plan for Research ‘Making Research Matter’ was informed by a national advisory panel, with stakeholders including NIHR Nursing and Midwifery.
Other key partnerships include the International Association of Clinical Research Nurses (IACRN) and the UK Clinical Research Facility Network (UKCRF).
Meet the team
NIHR Director of Nursing and Midwifery
Professor Ruth Endacott was appointed inaugural Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the NIHR in May 2021. Prior to her appointment, Ruth was Professor of Clinical Nursing at the University of Plymouth and Monash University, Melbourne and Deputy Chair of the NIHR Clinical Doctorate Research Fellowship panel. She has held leadership positions as Head of School, Head of Department and Associate Dean (Research) in the UK and Australia.
Associate Directors of Nursing
Jennifer Allison is an Associate Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the NIHR and Lead Matron of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility. She leads a large team caring for paediatric and adult patients, and healthy participants, in early phase and complex experimental medicine studies. On the Senior Management Team of the UKCRF Network, she is Workforce/Education Theme Lead, building and maximising relationships across the NIHR and UK and Ireland research infrastructure. This compliments her NIHR role where she focuses on developing the workforce and opportunities for nurses and midwives to undertake rewarding careers in research. She is the immediate Past- President of the International Association of Clinical Research Nurses and remains on their Board.
Dr Catherine Henshall MN, RGN, MA, PhD is an Associate Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the NIHR and is Programme Director for the 70@70 Senior Nurse and Midwife Research Leader Programme. She is responsible for leading national strategies aimed at supporting nurses and midwives to contribute to, undertake and deliver research across England. She is a Reader in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes University, the Head of Research Delivery at Oxford Health NHS Trust and Co-Director of the NIHR Oxford Health Clinical Research Facility.
We are pleased to announce the appointment of three Clinical Fellows who will shape and deliver strategic initiatives for nurses and midwives across the NIHR and beyond.
- Sharon Dorgan has 14 years' experience in the Clinical Research Network. She is passionate about providing opportunities for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals to continually grow their research knowledge and skills. Sharon will be working on an accelerated associate principal investigator scheme for nurses and midwives.
- Louise Wolstenholme is an NIHR 70@70 Senior Nurse & Midwife cohort member, experienced health visitor and practice educator. She has an interest in building research capacity in community-based nursing. Louise will be working on research roles in Community, Public Health and Social Care.
- Cindy Whitbread is an NIHR 70@70 Senior Nurse & Midwife cohort member and Lead Research Nurse at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Cindy has a breadth of knowledge and experience leading clinical research studies within mental health and acute care settings.Cindy will be working on Career pathways for Research Nurses and Midwives.
- To find out more email: email@example.com
- Follow: #NIHRNursingMidwifery
NIHR Awards, events and campaigns
Nursing Times Awards
The NIHR are proud to sponsor the Nursing Times Awards Clinical Research Nursing category which recognises the essential contribution of the clinical research nursing workforce. From 2022 we are also sponsoring the same category at the Student Nursing Times Awards
International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses Day
Each May we celebrate the vital role that nurses and midwives play in leading, delivering and supporting research during International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses Day.
Catch up with 2022's week-long celebration where we shared their incredible stories and demonstrated the opportunities a career in research can bring.