Purpose for the Program
Perinatal research is an emerging focus and has become the topic of many recent discussions. A priority at our level III facility is to promote research and provide our patients with the opportunity to participate in various studies that may have a significant effect on their outcomes.
The addition of the perinatal research team was led by the system medical director for maternal–fetal medicine. Support from administration was imperative, as this position required a full-time nurse, office space, supplies, and staff education. In addition, there were added responsibilities for the maternal–fetal medicine specialist as the principle investigator.
Implementation, Outcomes, and Evaluation
A plan to implement the perinatal research team was developed. The team consists of a full-time perinatal clinical research nurse, several casual research nurses, and two perinatologists dedicated to the principle investigator role. Implementation required nurse/physician collaboration, as the perinatal clinical research nurse and physician principle investigators provided education to staff nurses, advanced practice nurses, obstetricians, and neonatologists regarding the various studies. Challenges included financial obligations related to salaries and supplies, office space, and staff resistance related to changes and new protocols. The addition of the perinatal research team has been an excellent addition to our facility as we strive to move forward and provide best practices to our moms and infants. Since initiation, our facility has participated in seven different studies that involve hundreds of patients. Several studies are ongoing for data collection and two remain open for recruitment. Two articles have been published in professional journals and data analysis continues.
Implications for Nursing Practice
The role of the perinatal clinical research nurse provides an exciting opportunity for professional growth and development. The position is the perfect balance of patient interaction and data collection. Essential responsibilities include educating patients about various studies and obtaining informed consent, collaboration with the direct care nurses and physicians, data collection, and follow-up. Other duties include learning about new study procedures, Human Subject Protection policies, Institutional Review Board protocols and documentation, and good clinical practices. The benefits to both the patient and the research team are plentiful. The patient has the option to participate in studies that may improve outcomes for her and her infant and the research team has the opportunity to contribute to advances in perinatal care.