March 20, 2009

Research nurses get chance to show off investigative skills

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From left, Wendy Lloyd, Karen Adkins and Gail Mayo, R.N., prepare a poster for presentation. (Susan Urmy)

Research nurses get chance to show off investigative skills

Often referred to as the “hands of the investigator,” research nurses help determine, for example, if melatonin is safe and effective for children with autism who have sleep problems, or if a proposed drug might actually be more effective treating something other than its intended use.

“Research nurses are spread out throughout the institution,” said Gail Mayo, R.N., a research services consultant. “There are 150 research nurses at Vanderbilt, and roughly 250 nurses involved in research, including research nurses, nurses in managerial roles of research teams, IRB (Institutional Review Board) personnel and research administration.

“Some of us have worked here a long time and just have a great passion for research. It is taking nursing and adding another skill set. In addition to study implementation, a research nurse is essentially the PR person for that investigator, the front person who the research participants see most often during the trial,” Mayo said.

Vanderbilt research nurses will be spotlighted and recognized for their accomplishments this year with a first-ever poster presentation during Nurses Week. March 31 is the deadline for submission of intent to display a poster at the event, which is scheduled for 1-3 p.m., May 13, in the North Lobby of Light Hall.

A six-member Research Nurses Week Committee is soliciting posters with a research focus. The primary author should be a nurse. Topics can be related to a specific research project or a method or process that is unique or helpful to other nurses.

Committee members said the session is geared to assist nurses in research in networking and to develop presentation skills and professionalism.

“A research nurse is autonomous, functions independently, is very detail oriented, organized and has good people skills,” said Karen Adkins, a research nurse specialist IV.

“Research nurses tend to be very isolated,” added Mayo, who chairs the committee. “This is an initiative to bring them out, to let them showcase themselves and their practice and let them network with other research professionals.”

Committee member Wendy Lloyd, who also chairs the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA), said the poster presentation on campus this year is especially important because budget cuts will prohibit travel to some of the national conferences.

“At least they will have a chance to have a poster, see how it feels, and get some recognition for all of the hard work that they have done,” said Lloyd, a regulatory affairs and compliance specialist.

“I think research nurses are helping Vanderbilt achieve its goals by doing quality research and increasing funding for that research. When I have sponsors come in to do a site review to see if Vanderbilt might be a site they want to use, they always want to know how many research nurses we have and how many are certified research professionals.”

For more information contact Mayo at 322-7072 or