For more than ten years, MaryBeth Davenport, MS, RN, CPN, has been providing top-notch patient care for children and their families at the Pediatric Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Because she is a clinical research nurse, she delivers patient care while also conducting clinical research studies with patients. “I love combining the nursing care with the science of research,” says Davenport.
In August of this year, the American Nursing Association (ANA) officially recognized clinical research nursing as a specialty practice. And this fall, the ANA and the International Association of Clinical Research Nurses (IACRN) co-published the scope and standards of clinical research nursing. The publication contains up-to-date information for nurse leaders, educators, registered nurses (RN) and advanced nursing professionals.
“It’s really exciting to get our own designation,” Davenport says. “Having our own designation brings all clinical research nurses together nationally and internationally.”
The CTRC nurse managers at University of Colorado Hospital have been members of IACRN for five years and nurse managers at Children’s Hospital Colorado for three years. Together, the nurses have worked to grow the IACRN into a local chapter, which was officially recognized this year as a Rocky Mountain Chapter—one of only four chapters internationally so far. IACRN offers quarterly meetings where members may participate in continuing education and take part in forums discussing best practices and issues and questions pertinent to their field.
Part of what distinguishes clinical research nursing from other nursing fields is that clinical research nurses help to shape the future of medical care. For example, the pediatric CTRC recently tested a type of medication infusion for patients with spinal muscular atrophy. The clinical trials with patients were so successful that the infusions the nurses implemented with patients in the CTRC will now be adopted everywhere as the “pharmaceutical standard of practice.”
“It’s a highly collaborative team effort to conduct research at these CTRC facilities,” says Davenport. “Without research, we can’t move forward and find the best new treatments for our patients.”