• Nurse practitioners;
  • professional autonomy;
  • nurse's role;
  • research;
  • questionnaire


Purpose: To characterize the role of advanced practice nurses (APNs), particularly nurse practitioners (NPs), in the practice setting of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a Federal biomedical research facility.

Data sources: APNs with prescriptive authority employed at the NIH were surveyed using an adaptation of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) “2004 Nurse Practitioner Sample Survey.” A total of 56 of 93 surveys were returned (63% response rate), and of these, 54 (96%) were completed by NPs.

Conclusion: In the 20 years they have been at NIH, the number of NPs has grown from less than 10 to more than 100. NIH NPs combine clinical research responsibilities with the provision of comprehensive medical management to patients enrolled on NIH protocols, blending clinical, research, educational, and administrative tasks into a unique and multifaceted role. There is a high level of satisfaction among NPs employed at the NIH, and they are considered an integral part of the research team.

Implications for practice: This survey shows the variability in practice opportunities available to NPs in a research environment and the impact they have on public health.