Sep 22, 2017
Other Health Professions Student

I'm a nurse that switched from a focus in medicine to get my RN. (I had great grades, I just valued patient contact more than working as an MD would give me.) While being wait listed for some RN classes, I finished a science degree and a certificate in biomedical research assisting. I've looked for MD/PhD forums to post this question, but this form seems my best bet. My dream job would be a position as the right hand man of a MD/PhD in translational medicine. During my science degree, I had an internship where I was in the OR observing brain tumor resection that was brought back to the lab, grown, and tested for effective treatments. I maintained the cell cultures for this. I worked a separate project as well, using genomic editing to try to create a study model to untangle the inositol polyphosphate cascade. I loved every bit of it. From seeing the patients preop to being the bench monkey. Anyway, does anyone think there is a place for a research trained Nurse practitioner to assist the MD PhD in managing the very complicated schedule of clinical and research duties? I can't shake that this is what I want to do. I don't even know where to begin educationally. Would I need both nursing and science degrees? Would I need to be a NP? Or would I go further following a science track? Does anyone have resources for me to figure this out?
  • Like
Reactions: amuseddoughnut


ACFAS Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 28, 2008
I have heard this person speak once in the past: Martha Curley. You should look her up and consider reaching out. She is a big advocate and I definitely think there is a place for all kinds of healthcare workers to contribute to the knowledge base.


"Hooray, I'm useful"
10+ Year Member
Oct 20, 2005
Having a wonderful time on Omicron Persei 8
Attending Physician
An NP degree would be no value in my opinion for what you specifically described. What you are describing is essentially is a research assistant position, just a higher level one. In a better case scenario, if the project were large enough and had other people working on it, you could oversee it as a laboratory manager, which in most places, is a salaried position, as oppose to an research assistant, which is usually hourly. The last position I've seen is a staff scientist, which is essentially PhD-level staff who oversee projects and do their own, PI-guided projects, but who never intend to submit their own grants and who position (just like all the other ones mentioned here) is dependent on PI-funding. In all of these positions, a NP is unlikely to be helpful. Instead one would need a masters or doctorate in science. Examples:
RA --> BS, BA
Lab Manager --> MLI
Staff Scientist --> PhD

Alternatively, there are research nurse positions. These usually are nurses who are involved in consent and recruitment. Additional responsibilities would be specimen collection, data analysis and manuscript writing. Here an NP degree would likely be beneficial. I've just never seen a research nurse do primary culture work. I suppose someone could dream up a position where a PI who did translational research could have a combined research nurse/assistant who consented patients, collected specimens, cultured them and did CRISPR/Cas or whatever, I've just never seen. That doesn't seem like a very efficient system.

As far as educational routes that aren't a PhD, I would suggest looking into Masters in Laboratory Investigation or Masters in Clinical Investigation and see what those degrees offer as far as what your interests are.
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: tr
About the Ads


2+ Year Member
Oct 14, 2015
Hive of Scum and Villainy
MD/PhD Student
So n=1 but one of the Physician-Scientists I shadowed had a Nurse-Scientist in his lab as well. She did basically everything you described: met with patients, measured/record values for the clinical trial they were running, worked at the bench. I don't know how common it is, but it definitely exists. If I remember correctly she was working on a masters in biology, but at the time had only trained as a nurse. I don't really know how one gets into a position like that, but I would look around your closest research institution and see if anyone fits the bill that you could probe.


Staff member
10+ Year Member
Aug 8, 2009
Beyond the Wall
Family friend was an RN who worked under a cardiologist who did a lot of clinical reasearch.

You can get a masters in things like public health, epidemiology, or clinical research that can help you connect with the right people.

You can get a research PhD as a nurse and do your own research.


10+ Year Member
Apr 12, 2007
Medical Student
there are absolutely opportunities but heavily institutional specific. I've known NPs who acts as both research NPs and clinical NPs - but this only works if your clinic workload is light. From what I have seen - typically they do clinic for pts on research protocols 2-3 times a week with average patient load of <10 patients / day. Rest of the week you are on consult service and manages inpatient or any problems that arise.
About the Ads