Celebrating Research Nurses on International Nurses Day 2024

Each year, on 12 May, International Nurses Day highlights the fantastic work carried out by nurses worldwide. It is an opportunity to demonstrate the remarkable difference that nursing staff make to many lives. Here at the BioResource, our Research Nurses are at the forefront of recruiting volunteers to participate in health research. Find out about what their vital role entails and hear from some of our lovely Research Nurses working at our regional BioResource Centres across England. 

To coincide with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, International Nurses Day puts the spotlight on nurses, who are the backbone of healthcare yet often undervalued. To mark the day, we are delighted to celebrate some of our talented Research Nurses who work tirelessly to recruit volunteers into the BioResource, creating a positive experience for them while providing researchers with what they need to carry out ground-breaking health research that improves lives for the better. 

The NIHR BioResource work with hundreds of Research Nurses across various NHS sites in England, who operate at one of our 18 local BioResource Centres to recruit volunteers, with and without a health condition, into the BioResource. 

Pictured: Daniela Caputo, Research Nurse in Cambridge S2 Clinic, with volunteer

What does a Research Nurse do? 

Research Nurses are part of a Clinical Team who facilitate volunteer recruitment and recall studies. They handle everything from organising volunteer appointments to taking blood samples, always ensuring that the volunteer has a positive experience. At the BioResource, our mission is to make research as accessible to volunteers as possible. Therefore, our Research Nurses go above and beyond to accommodate for patients and their needs, whether that be booking them a taxi to attend the clinic, carrying out appointments off-site by visiting them at their home or place of work, or tailoring their appointment to any accessibility requirements they have. They’re constantly thinking outside the box to come up with practical solutions to make volunteering with the BioResource effortless. 

As well as recruiting new volunteers to the BioResource, they work closely alongside the various study teams across our disease areas/cohorts. Once a research application has been approved by the BioResource, study coordinators liaise with research nurses to set up recruitment for the study. Participants are invited based on the study’s inclusion/exclusion criteria. If the volunteer accepts, the team will organise a suitable appointment based on what is needed for the study. This could be anything from filling out a questionnaire with specific questions to carrying out biometric tests, obtaining skin biopsies or multiple blood samples. 

On a weekly basis, Research Nurses at the BioResource are allocated either Stage 1 or Stage 2 clinic appointments. Stage 1 refers to patients joining the BioResource for the first time, which involves collecting samples and informed consent in accordance with research protocols. Stage 2 refers to recalling existing BioResource volunteers for participation in a specific study. 

Alongside volunteer appointments, Research Nurses complete routine training to adhere to NHS standards and maintain their nursing status with the Nursing and Midwifery Council Registry. They also have to follow protocols for maintaining a clinic, such as monitoring stock levels of clinical supplies and carrying out risk assessments, as well as administrative tasks such as updating Standard Operating Practise (SOP) documents.  

Key aspects of the role 

  • Expertise - use of clinical judgment to determine if the volunteer is the right fit for participation in the study 
  • Communication – volunteer-centric approach by always meeting the patient at their needs and creating a positive volunteering experience 
  • Qualified – 3-year degree course to become a nurse, followed by 1-2 years of clinical experience 

Impact of our Research Nurses: statistics from the Clinical Team in Cambridge 

Becoming a Research Nurse: Q&A with Research Sister Olivia Adolphus, BioResource Centre Sheffield 

Ever wondered why and how someone becomes a nurse? We spoke to Research Nurse Olivia Adolphus, from the BioResource Centre Sheffield, who tells us about her nursing career, working in health research, and misconceptions around nurses. 

Why did you become a nurse?  

Nursing is the art of caring, and seeing how my mother, who is also a nurse, cared for people and helped them recover inspired me to become a nurse. Nursing encompasses a wide range of specialties and settings, from paediatrics to gerontology, hospitals to community health organisations, and research.” 

Tell us about your career journey so far 

“In terms of my career, I had my nursing diploma in Nigeria and got my licence, after which I proceeded to the Philippines because I sincerely want to explore nursing in different countries; After earning my BSN, I pursued a master's degree in nursing administration and management. I have studied and worked in a variety of fields, including adult nursing, mental health, and research. With experience and additional education, you can advance to leadership positions, specialise in a specific area, or pursue advanced degrees such as Nurse Practitioner or Doctor of Nursing Practice. I have also completed a Post Graduate certificate in medical Education for health care professionals as this will help me to keep progressing in my career as a nurse.” 

Have you worked in health research before? 

“The most exciting thing about my role as a research sister is witnessing the participants' enthusiasm to make a difference, in addition to the exposure to research I received during my undergrad and master's degrees, which actually sparked my interest in taking on a job role in research. I also get to meet new people and attend a variety of clinics and events to speak with patients and encourage them to participate in BioResource research. Overall, my experience working in health research has been amazing.” 

What is a misconception about nurses you wish to dispel? 

Myth: Nurses are only work in hospitals.

Reality: Nurses work in various settings, including clinics, community, health organisations, schools and even private homes."


Working with children: Q&A with Research Nurses from the Paediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease (PIBD) cohort 

We spoke to the PIBD team about the role as a Research Nurse working with children. The PIBD BioResource, led by Professor Holm Uhlig at Oxford University, is paediatric arm of the adult IBD BioResource and offers research participation to children and young people with IBD, with the aim of increasing our understanding of the condition and identifying the best treatment options available for children with this condition. 

We spoke to Emily Tropman, Clinical Research Nurse at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Sarah Clews and Leah Varghese, Research Nurse and Research Practitioner respectively, based at Oxford Children’s Hospital. 

What is the difference between working with young people versus adults? 

You have more people to consider. Are the parents happy to take part as well as the child? The consent process is different as you need child assent and parental consent. Ultimately, it’s important to be able to engage with the young people, engage them and approach them in a way that is age appropriate.” – Emily  

The enthusiasm and joy children naturally bring makes your working day brighter. Also being involved in, not just the children’s lives, but also getting to meet and connect with families sets it apart from other specialties.” - Leah 

What is the best part about working with young people? 

“Young people are our future. It never fails to amaze me some of obstacles these young people have to manage, and they take it all in their stride!” – Emily

Seeing young people grow and develop as they face challenges and come out stronger and brighter is definitely a highlight of the job.” – Sarah 

What is the most challenging part about your role? 

“The most challenging aspect of my role is ensuring everything is completed within a relatively short time frame with a large workload. I work part time so it can be a challenge to juggle sometimes. But I really enjoy it and wouldn’t want to do anything else.” – Emily 


Meet our Research Nurses in Nottingham

The Nottingham BioResource Centre is one of 6 new Centres, along with Sheffield, that joined the BioResource in December 2022. These fantastic four Research Nurses currently recruit volunteers into the majority of cohorts/studies at the BioResource.

Hear about why they love their role! 

To conclude… 

We want to thank all of our Research Nurses at who recruit volunteers in the BioResource across England. We wouldn’t have any volunteers without them, nor would researchers have the data they need to make scientific breakthroughs that improve healthcare for the benefit of everyone! Their efforts are at the heart of what we do at the BioResource. 

#NursesDay #IND2024