Internet Explorer is no longer supported by Microsoft. To browse the NIHR site please use a modern, secure browser like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Research roles for nurses and midwives

There are many exciting career options in research for nurses and midwives which will help improve practice and how we care for people. 

Below is an overview of the main research roles for nurses and midwives.

Clinical nurses and midwives

Nurses and midwives who are working in health and care settings can support research in a number of ways. Examples include:

  • identifying people for specific research studies
  • supporting investigations
  • ensuring adherence to protocols, people's safety, and data collection
  • undertaking a research-related role to enable delivery of a study
  • becoming a co-applicant at the design phase of a research study (expert by practice)
  • working as a Principal Investigator ensuring delivery of a study at site

More information

Find out more on NIHR Learn:

Research Practice in Clinical Studies on NIHR Learn

Health and Care Research Engagement Toolkit

Find out about NIHR Learn and how to register

Research nurses and midwives

Research nurses and midwives actively participate in research projects. They collaborate with research teams to ensure studies are conducted ethically and effectively.

You can become a research nurse or midwife as part of a research delivery team. The video below explains what research nurses do:

Responsibilities include:

  • inviting people to join research studies
  • caring for participants
  • carrying out study procedures
  • developing new treatments or procedures based on research findings

They also work to embed research findings to improve every day working practice.

Case studies

Why I love being a research nurse - Angie's story

Angie who works at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust talks about what she loves about being a research nurse and why research is a rewarding career:

Researching the future of midwifery - Emma's story

Emma is a Research Midwife at St Richards Hospital in Chichester. In this case study, she talks about her journey into this unique and expanding area of clinical research:

Case study: Researching the future of midwifery

Andrea's story

Andrea is a midwife at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. She worked as a clinical midwife for then years before becoming a research midwife and shares the story of her career:

Case study: "I worked as a clinical midwife for ten years before becoming a research midwife"

Becoming a Clinical Research Nurse - Rashid's story

Rashid Almasarwah is a Clinical Research Nurse in the renal department at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. He has worked in nursing for over 35 years. In this case study, he shares the story of his career in research:

Case study: Rashid Almasarwah

More information

Common Research Nurse Roles And Responsibilities - article published on in March 2023

Clinical research nursing - Royal College of Nursing website

Clinician researchers

Clinician researchers integrate research into their jobs. They contribute significantly to advancing knowledge, improving care, and driving innovations in health and care.

Responsibilities include:

  • promoting research to people in their care, service users and colleagues
  • conducting other people’s research
  • designing and leading their own research

Case study

Samantha’s story: taking the MClinRes while working as a midwife

More information

Postgraduate courses on leading clinical research delivery

The NIHR and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) have worked with Higher Education Institutions to develop a national framework of Master’s level qualifications.

These qualifications are made up of a combination of online modules and practical experience, providing healthcare practitioners from any regulated profession with the skills, networks and confidence to lead and support clinical research delivery.

Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework

Hybrid or joint roles

Hybrid or joint roles offer nurses and midwives opportunities to combine clinical practice with research.

Placing research and evidence-based practice at the centre benefits everyone.  

Opportunities are becoming more common, with many organisations introducing innovative roles or research internships.

More information

Using joint roles to maximise research opportunities for patients and staff - Nursing Times article from 8 August 2023

Hybrid role combines critical care and research - NHS Northern Care Alliance case study

Research Advanced Clinical Practitioners

Research Advanced Clinical Practitioners (ACPs) are healthcare professionals, educated to Master’s level or equivalent. They combine knowledge of clinical research delivery and advanced clinical practice.

They can carry out certain tasks that would have been carried out by a doctor in the past. Examples include:

  • determining eligibility of participants on certain clinical trials
  • prescribing treatments
  • undertaking clinical reviews

More information

Multi-professional framework for advanced clinical practice in England - NHS Health Education England

Clinical academics and academics

Clinical academics engage in research while continuing with their clinical careers. 

Academics may not have a clinical role and focus more on the acquisition of new knowledge related to the progression of practice.

Both roles focus on improving healthcare by leading research and supporting a research-rich environment.

They focus on specific areas of interest, publish scholarly articles, and mentor future healthcare professionals.

They are usually based within a health or social care organisation and/or a university.

How to become a clinical academic?

Watch this guide to starting out in clinical academic research. It's a series of 10 short videos to help you navigate the complexities of becoming a clinical academic:

A guide to starting out in clinical academic research

Case study

Imogen Skene is a Senior Clinical Research Nurse at Bart’s Health NHS trust. She explains what inspired her to get involved in research and how she has been able to combine a nursing career, which she loves, and develop her interest in clinical research and help to identify best practice:

More information

We offer an academic programme to become a clinical academic.  Find out more:

Integrated Clinical and Practitioner (ICA) Programme

More information

Explore our information and resources for Nurses and midwives