The Massachusetts General Hospital Clinical Research Center (CRC) Nurses provide an array of resources and support to implement protocols on the CRC, including the administration of medications, performance of physiologic measurements, collection of research data and laboratory specimens, and provision of healthcare education and information related to the research study.

Nurses also provide for the physical safety, care, and comfort of research volunteers on the CRC. In addition, nursing staff review protocols and consult with investigators to optimize appropriate utilization of the services provided.


CRC nurse with a pediatric research participant

CRC nurse with a pediatric research participant

Consistent with Mass General Patient Care Services, nursing practice on the CRC is patient-centered and family-focused. The clinical research nurses provide compassionate and comprehensive care via nursing assessments and interventions to study participants. Nurses provide for the physical safety, care and comfort of the research participants while on the CRC. The CRC nurses are experienced and knowledgeable in nursing research and clinical areas such as pediatrics, oncology, psychiatry, gastroenterology, renal, endocrinology, cardiology, anesthesia and neurology.   

The CRC nurses participate in Partners Institutional Review Boards and Patient Care Services activities and committees, as well as hold memberships and leadership positions in professional local, national and international organizations. 

The CRC nurses support scientific research from all disciplines. Each active study protocol conducted on the CRC with a nursing component has an assigned primary and associate protocol nurse. The CRC nurses perform reviews of research protocols and collaborate with study teams to optimize the appropriate utilization of CRC resources and assist in the operationalization of protocols. Working with the interdisciplinary team, nurses assess, teach, and care for all needs of research patients.

CRC nurses provide skills such as administering investigational drugs, stimulation testing, intravenous glucose tolerance testing and physiological “clamp” studies, frequent blood sampling, collection of laboratory specimens, provision of healthcare education related to the research study as well off unit (scatter bed) support. They practice “beyond the walls of the CRC”. The CRC nursing staff provides nursing care to participants undergoing imaging studies at Charlestown Navy Yard (CNY), psychosocial studies at Simches, and studies throughout the main campus including those in the Emergency department, inpatient units, and intensive care units, among others.

Registered Nurses (RNs):

  • Design, implement and maintain a plan of care unique to each participant and protocol visit
  • Use the clinical resources of Mass General Patient Care Services to integrate both clinical and research standards to support care of the participant
  • Provide expert and compassionate care to the participants utilizing critical thinking
  • Ensure the safety of the research participants throughout the continuum of care within a patient and family centered care environment
  • Verify informed consent and willingness of the participants to continue in the study
  • Administer study medication and assess participant's response
  • Monitor subjects' physiological and psychological status throughout the study
  • Collect data such as pharmacokinetic sampling and perform some lab processing
  • Implement protocol teaching (initial and ongoing) and evaluate study participant’s understanding of the protocol to promote protocol compliance and maintenance
  • Communicate with study staff and investigator to evaluate findings and modify plan of care and protocol when necessary

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses:

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

The CRC CNS performs needs assessments and provides educational sessions and mentoring as appropriate to maintain consistency and quality of nursing care.  The CNS collaborates with RNs during protocol development and implementation to ensure that appropriate MGH resources are utilized to educate staff in accurate and safe protocol implementation.

Other roles specific to the CNS include:

  • Collaboration with nursing staff and study teams to facilitate utilization of the CRC and implementation of protocols
  • Mentoring staff on protocol development and implementation and determining patient and unit based needs to safely carry out protocols
  • Educating staff about diseases, medications, equipment and physiologic processes and patient needs; when necessary coordinating interdisciplinary education seminars
  • Participation in PCS activities such as collaborative governance and other leadership activities
  • Mentoring staff on nursing education or projects and assisting staff with clinical recognition and/or professional development
  • Educating staff about PCS initiatives and policy changes
  • Coordinating and collaborating with other PCS APRNs as needed for unit based or hospital based education

Nurse Practitioners (NPs)

CRC nurse completing an interview with a research partcipant

CRC nurse completing an interview with a research participant

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses with additional education and training that allows them to diagnose, treat, and write orders and prescriptions while caring for patients within a nursing framework. The NPs on the CRC are board certified in their specialty area, and are all ACLS certified.

The NPs on the CRC collaborate with colleagues to develop a patient-focused model of care to implement research studies in a safe, caring, and competent manner. The CRC NPs care for patients of all ages across the health to illness spectrum.

Specific role functions include:

  • Collaborating with principal investigators (PIs) to facilitate utilization of the CRC and the safe implementation of protocols
  • Providing clinical expertise and support for non-MD investigators using the CRC 
  • Admitting participants via patient order entry (POE), conducting histories and physical exams, and discharging them via discharge express (DEX)
  • Developing a plan of care to address protocol specific needs
  • Performing procedures as indicated by protocols (i.e. neuropsychiatric and cognitive testing, 6 minute walk test, and cardiac monitoring)
  • Overseeing and/or administering investigational and high risk drugs, including IV push medications
  • Ensuring patient safety and monitoring for adverse events
  • Supporting the CRC registered nurses (RNs) on studies by providing medical consultation and emergency assessment and care as indicated
  • Consulting with colleagues within Patient Care Services (PCS) to ensure safe implementation of research studies in accordance with established guidelines
  • Providing patient education, health promotion, counseling, and referrals as needed
  • Mentoring and developing nursing and study staff

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