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Nurses and Midwives

Nurses and midwives are 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 vision is to inspire nurses and midwives to improve health outcomes through research. Our aim is to enable nurses and midwives who support, deliver or lead research to develop and work to their potential, and to develop a pipeline of skilled research nurses and midwives. 

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 taking place in their place of work 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. Research nurses and midwives play a vital role in delivering and leading research, and improving patient care both in clinical and social care settings. 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.

How can I get started in my research career?

Developing your career in research with the NIHR

The NIHR offer a number of opportunities for nurses and midwives to develop their career in supporting, delivering or leading research.

Nurses and midwives can access clinical academic career development opportunities through the Health Education England (HEE)/ NIHR Integrated Clinical and Practitioner Academic (ICA) Programme.

Find out more about our research training awards, offered through the HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme and NIHR Fellowships Programme.

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.

Learning and support

Learning and support resources are available on the NIHR Learn platform and NHS Future Learn

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

We aim to provide guidance, support and development opportunities for all nurses and midwives who wish to support, deliver and lead research. There are a number of projects underway to address these aims:

  • The Principal Investigator Pipeline Programme (PIPP), launching in Autumn 2023, aims to grow the number of nurse and midwife Principal Investigators (PIs) by developing the skills and knowledge required for the role.
  • The RISE (Research In Community Settings) project aims develop research-related roles for nurses and midwives in community, public health, primary care and social care settings by identifying and learning from successful community initiatives.
  • The NIHR, in collaboration with NHS organisations and Higher Education Institutions across England, has developed an interactive resource aimed at pre-registration nursing and midwifery students. The resource provides an overview of what being a clinical research delivery nurse or midwife entails. The resource will soon be available via the NHS Future Learn platform and has already been embedded into the student pre-registration curriculum in some parts of the country.
  • We are currently developing a hybrid research placement model for pre-registration nursing students to gain first-hand knowledge and experience of clinical research whilst embedded in their placement areas. The model is based on a successful pilot at Leeds and York Partnership NHS and is due to be piloted in four NHS mental health trusts later in 2023-24.
  • The Career Pathway Project acknowledges that opportunities for nurses and midwives to develop research careers are variable and is developing pathways that promote movement between roles. We are engaging with nurses and midwives from a breadth of specialities to gain an understanding of barriers and enablers involved in moving between different research roles.

If you would like more information on the work we are doing to improve career opportunities for nurses and midwives in research, please contact the team

70@70 Senior Nurse and Midwife Research Leader Programme Alumni 

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  70@70 SNMRL alumni include:

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. 

Professor Catherine Henshall  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.

Clinical Fellows

  • 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 experienced nurse with a breadth of knowledge and experience ranging from First in Human to Phase 4 clinical research studies. She has worked in a broad spectrum of specialties in Clinical Research Facilities as well as acute care and social care settings. She has a passion for quality improvement and a commitment to promoting equality and diversity within all areas of health and social care. She is a member of the 70@70 NIHR Senior Nurse and Midwife Leader Programme Alumni and a Clinical Fellow (NIHR Nursing & Midwifery), leading on workforce evolution through the development of the national Research Nurse and Midwife Careers Project.

Contact us

NIHR Awards, events and campaigns

NIHR Nursing and Midwifery Office are delighted to sponsor three awards categories for nurses and midwives involved in research in 2023.

With the addition of a new research category at the Royal College of Nursing Awards, we are now able to offer awards opportunities for all nurses and midwives who support, deliver and lead research.

  • Entries for the RCN Award are open. This is a fantastic opportunity for nurses and midwives that have led a piece of research that has had an impact on patient care outcomes and / or service delivery.
  • Entries for research nurses and midwives for the Nursing Times Awards are also open.

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.