National Nursing Week


May 6-12 is National Nursing Week! We sat down with one of the nurses from our Clinical Research Unit (CRU) at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (CHRIM), to highlight the importance of nurses in research and to get an understanding of what goes on at the unit.

Barb Fletcher has been a clinical research nurse at CHRIM for 8.5 years, and was excited to share her input.

Q: What is the Clinical Research Unit at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba?

A: The Clinical Research Unit (CRU) offers families in Manitoba, Northwestern Ontario, and Nunavut the opportunity to participate in many different research studies at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (CHRIM). CRU staff are highly trained and qualified in pediatric research processes and can answer questions from parents and patients about child health research and participation in studies. The CRU offers researchers at CHRIM access to world-class facilities, equipment, and services for conducting research, as well as administrative support.

Q: What does a clinical research nurse do?

A: A clinical research nurse helps set up research studies and recruit study participants, as well as carry out procedures; maintain high clinical standards; adhere to protocols, codes of conduct, and policies; and ensure research governance is in place. We also act as advocates and advise participants, making sure they understand and are comfortable with their role in the study.

Q: What is it like working as a clinical research nurse?

A: I really enjoy it because of the interactions I have with participants and families ranging from babies and toddlers to adults, and I also deal with various cultural backgrounds.

Q: What is a typical day for you?

A: Each day is different depending on the study you are involved in. One day could be spent doing blood draws on young children and helping them to not be afraid by using numbing cream, distractions, and a lot of talking! Most days involve me in the lab preparing samples. Data entry is also very important.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a clinical research nurse?

A: The fact that I am able to be flexible as a research nurse benefits both myself as well as my participants. Developing an ongoing relationship is very meaningful.

Q: What is the hardest part of your job?

A: The hardest part of my job is drawing blood on participants who are young and very scared of needles. Making everyone feel at ease is my priority.

*Note: check out this awesome website developed by one of our research groups on managing pain in children visiting hospitals and research facilities! The ‘Every Child Every Time’ group led by Dr. Kerstin Gerhold offers fantastic tips and resources for healthcare practitioners, parents, and caregivers: https://everychildeverytime.ca/

Q: Why did you decide to pursue this career?

A: I was asked by a friend to help out in a study she was coordinating. I had left the hospital setting, so the timing was great. I joined her and have been part of the research team ever since! That was in September of 2010.

Q: What advice would you give to somebody interested in becoming a clinical research nurse?

A: If you are willing to be flexible in both your hours as well as what you do day to day, research is for you! Hours will vary from week to week depending on the availability of your participants.

Q: What are some of the studies you are working on now, and how will they benefit the future of child health?

A: I am currently working on various studies, some of which include trialing new vaccines. These vaccines will aid in helping to eliminate deadly outbursts of diseases in the near future.

Q: What is important or unique about being a part of the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba?

A: The unique part of working at CHRIM is that you work with many different researchers and people. Everyone involved has the same goal in mind: to make medical improvements that will positively impact the future of both children and adults!