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My Story as a Chemotherapy Research Nurse

Today, we feature a Research Nurse specialising in Chemotherapy. Learn more about this role including its challenges & the steps on how to be successful in this role.

I am Emil, a Chemotherapy research nurse in one of the NHS Trusts in England. I moved to the UK back in 2001. Since I started, I took on a number of roles and work on various areas within NHS such as medicine, poisons & toxicology, HDU and intensive care. I also spent a couple of years doing a clinical role in a chemotherapy day unit. I came across patients that are involved in oncology clinical trials. My interest in research grew from there. I saw that research can contribute to better patient care, experience and outcomes. When an opportunity in oncology research opened, I applied and was fortunate to be offered the role.

Typical Day of a Chemotherapy Research Nurse

As a chemotherapy research nurse, I am involved in trials for certain types of brain, prostate, and breast cancers. My schedule is a mix of administrative, research and clinical work.

Most of my working days are spent doing research work & then on certain days I spend hours giving systemic anticancer therapies (SACT) safely across various oncology & haematology clinical trials. The diversity in tasks makes my role very exciting and challenging. I have the privilege of being involved in research whilst being the friendly familiar face for my patients as they bravely endure their anticancer treatment regimes, most of which last months and sometimes even years.

Challenges of a Chemotherapy Research Nurse

Few of the notable challenges in my role are patient recruitment and time management. Finding suitable and interested patients who will participate in the study can be challenging especially considering the situation they are in. Knowing how to communicate is key to this role. Moreover, managing time can also be challenging in this role. Since its a mix of research and clinical work, you need to know how to prioritise and be efficient. Otherwise, you will not be able to fulfil the timelines set in your research.

How to be a Chemotherapy Research Nurse

A sound post-qualification experience in oncology or haematology is essential to this job. Knowledge & experience of these is vital because clinical trials are always built from standards of care. The role of research in healthcare is to keep improving standards of care and ensuring that current clinical practice is evidenced-based. Training in Good Clinical Practice (GCP) is also vital in this role. We need to know the fundamentals in clinical research to ensure that research participants are always safe & protected and that studies are always implemented in an ethical manner.

Advice to fellow nurses

Research is all about constantly improving patient care, patient experience and patient outcomes. If you are thinking of dipping your toes in clinical research, I would definitely say "Go for it!" especially when you tend to be quite an academic. It is a very good nursing expertise because you do not only keep your clinical skills, you also become a part of the development of care.

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