Clinical TopicsCommunityOff the ChartsOncology

So you’re interested in research?

By: Julie Cullen

By Julie Cullen, Managing Editor, American Nurse Today

Have you ever thought about going into research. Based on a recent conversation I had with a nurse researcher, it sounds like an exciting career path. As part of our Nurses Week for a Month celebration, I wanted to share this interview with Jennifer M. Long, RN, MA, APRN, OCN, a clinical researcher at Western Connecticut Health Network. Jennifer is working with Dr. Richard Frank on his pioneering, national clinical study finding the definitive link between pancreatic cancer and

new-onset diabetes. I suspect you’ll find her research interesting, but you’ll also want to hear what she has to say about why it’s important for nurses to get involved. And check out this article to find out how to turn your research into journal articles and presentations so you can share it with y

Jennifer M. Long, RN, MA, APRN, OCN

our colleagues.

Can you share a little bit about the project you’re working on with Dr. Frank? What are your responsibilities? As a nurse, what do you bring to the project?

The pancreatic screening study that was designed by Dr. Frank looks at patients who have been recently diagnosed with diabetes as well as those with a hereditary risk for the development of pancreatic cancer. I am co-directing the operational aspects of the study, which involves recruitment and enrollment, and collection of research-related specimens, as well as data and financial/budgetary management. As a nurse, I play a pivotal role in patient care from identification of study participants to coordination of care with serial magnetic resonance imaging and biomarker specimen collection throughout the course of their participation in the study.

Why is it important for nurses to get involved in research?

Nurses are critical to research. Our ability to provide comprehensive care to eligible patients allows them an opportunity they may not otherwise have available. This is key in oncology where there is an ever-changing environment of novel drug therapies. Clinical research isn’t about number crunching or plots and graphs. It’s about giving our patients a new and otherwise unavailable treatment that may change a standard of care—and hopefully for the better.

How does a nurse get involved in research, whether it’s joining someone else’s team or launching his or her own research project?

Research opportunities are mostly available in hospital-based settings, although some are conducted in physician practices. Reviewing opportunities in these settings or even local societies/foundations (such as Oncology Nursing Society [ONS]) where a special interest group can be contacted is a great starting point. If a nurse wants to conduct or write a research study, he or she will need to gain approval from an institutional review board as well as have basic training and competencies through online modules such as Good Clinical Practice.

After the research is complete, what’s next? Do you have recommendations regarding publication, posters presentations, speaking at local/national meetings?

Accessing or joining local chapters of organizations such as ONS or American Society of Clinical Oncology allows researchers to submit data for posters, abstracts, or even publications. Studies that are conducted through large clinical research organizations or pharmaceutical-based sponsors are typically submitted in partnership with them.

Julie Cullen, managing editor of American Nurse Today and a curator of online content for the American Nurse Today website, is most definitely not a nurse, but she admires what all of you do everyday. In her Off the Charts blog she shares some of her experiences as a patient and family member of patients, thoughts and ideas that occur to her during her work editing nursing content, and information she thinks you might find interesting. Julie welcomes your feedback. You can submit a comment on the website or email her at

1 Comment.

  • This is a wonderful interview with Jen! I would, however, like to point out an error in the article. The study is looking at patients that have been recently diagnosed with diabetes, not pancreatic cancer (in addition to patients with a hereditary risk of developing pancreatic cancer).

Comments are closed.

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