A Day in the Life of a Research Nurse
Amy Stone is a Clinical Research Nurse working on COVID-19 research trials at the Clinical Research Facility at UCC. For many years, the clinical research nurse (CRN) has been recognised in Ireland and internationally as a key member of the clinical research team and has played a pivotal role in clinical and health services research. The role of the CRN is complex. It combines that of direct patient caregiver, educator, ethical and patient advocator, clinical and study manager, administrator and researcher. Amy is just one of 15 research nurses within the CRF-C who represent the human face of clinical trials for patients. Here she outlines her day.
9am: We work at the interface between the patient and those drugs that might assist them. In addtion to the COVID-19 trials, I coordinate two clinical trials for a new medication for patients with uncontrolled epilepsy, working closely with Consultant Neurologist, Dr. Daniel Costello. Due to the pandemic we have to reorganise hospital visits and lab tests for these patients. The biggest concern for my patients is that they continue to receive their trial medication even though they are unable to attend the hospital right now. I contact the courier and arrange a shipment of medication to go directly to the patients’ homes so they dont miss a dose. I spend the next couple of hours rearranging hospital visits for these patients and conduct assessments over the phone.
11am: Coffee fix and paperwork. All of these updates and safety assessments have to updated into the patients’ medical charts. I ensure all correspondence is accurate and up to date to reflect these changes. So much paper work!
12pm: There is a team meeting via Skype for all staff in the CRF-C, which encompasses not only a clinical component, but also academic and regulatory affairs departments. The meeting is led by our Clinical Director, Prof Joe Eustace, who is providing us with an update on the status of the potential clinical trials relating to COVID-19 that may be coming through. There are at least two drug trials (what we call ‘Investigational Medicinal Product’) drug trials that are in the pipeline which would allow patients in both CUH and Mercy University Hospital to avail of these new treatments. They hope to have approval from regulatory and ethics committees for these trials to begin as soon as next week. There is no known treatment for COVID-19 as of yet, and these trials will give us vital data to inform clinicians in treating these patients safely and effectively.
2pm: I have changed into my scrubs. It’s time to head to the wards to collect clinical data from COVID-19 patients, as part of an observational research study called ‘SPRINT-SARI’. Upon entering the ward, I don my PPE and head to the nurse’s station. A list of patients has been given to me from my colleague, Aisling Murphy, the SPRINT-SARI trial Coordinator. Aisling has been in contact with the Infection Diseases Team in CUH who provide the hospital identifiers for those diagnosed with COVID-19. I read the patients’ medical charts and collect data to be entered into an online database later for analysis. This database is approved by the World Health Organisation and managed by ISARIC (International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium) in the UK. Scientists there will pool the data inputted from research sites from around the world for analysis.
6pm: Time to head home. Tomorrow will bring another new set of challenges. I am only one of 15 research nurses within the CRF-C, and we’re all in this for the same reason – to bring new and innovative treatments to patients in Cork hospitals. This coronavirus pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to us all, but we’re determined to help combat this in the best way know how, through vital research.