Interview with Nurse Coordinator: Jen Cavalieri, BSN, RN, CCRC, CCRP

Jennifer Cavalieri, BSN, RN, CCRC, CCRP

Jennifer Cavalieri, BSN, RN, CCRC, CCRP

Meet Jen Cavalieri, BSN, RN, CCRC, CCRP – Nurse Coordinator of Clinical Research Projects at the Nebraska Medical Center. We had the pleasure of learning more about Jen and her exciting job in the healthcare industry. As a research nurse for more than 25 years, her experience includes coordinating clinical research trials for a variety of investigations. We caught up with Jen to learn more about the role of a research nurse and her professional journey. With a second book about research almost ready for publication, we feel honored to have Jen as our featured nursing professional.

  1. To start us off, could you please provide our readers with an overview of your role as Nurse Coordinator of Clinical Research Projects in Infectious Diseases section at the University of Nebraska Medical Center?
  2. What drew you to your area of research?
  3. What is the most challenging part of your job?
  4. As a Nurse Coordinator, what skills are absolutely essential to be successful in your line of work?
  5. You’ve worked on quite a few substantial research projects over the years with other nurses as well as physicians. What sort of training, both in school and on the job, did you receive prior to working on these projects?
  6. You are currently working on a new book. That’s incredibly exciting. Could you share with us a little bit about the book and what it entails?
  7. Many of our readers are LPNs looking to becoming RNs and possibly nurse practitioner down the road. Do you have any advice for prospective students when it comes to researching degree programs? What considerations are most important, in your opinion?
  8. What would you say are the five most essential skills nurses need in today’s diverse and challenging healthcare environments?
  9. What other tips or words of advice do you have for our readers as they prepare to advance their education and become a registered nurse?

1)LPNtoBSNOnline.org: To start us off, could you please provide our readers with an overview of your role as Nurse Coordinator of Clinical Research Projects in Infectious Diseases section at the University of Nebraska Medical Center?

My role as Nurse Coordinator of Clinical Research Projects is a combination of nursing and project management. I handle the “daily operations” for multiple research protocols and this involves clinical, regulatory, and finance related processes and tasks.

This is different from the role of a Nurse Researcher. Nurse Researchers have graduate degrees and many hours of formal training in research theory. As investigators they may have designed the research protocol. They are responsible for the overall conduct of the trial. Research investigators may be physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, and scientists.

One way to compare these roles is to say that the Research Nurse Coordinator is like a clinical nurse and a Nurse Researcher is like a medical provider such as the physician, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.

2)LPNtoBSNOnline.org: What drew you to your area of research?

After graduating from nursing school, I worked in the hospital with Medical-Surgical patients for ten years. I enjoyed the variety of patients and the shift schedule worked well when my children were very young. I saw a position posted for a research coordinator and decided to give it a try. I kept my weekend clinical position during the first six months of the new research job. I wasn’t sure if “this research thing” was going to work out. It’s been more than 20 terrific years of doing “this research thing.” Over the years I have worked for investigators conducting clinical trials in oncology, gastroenterology, osteoporosis, and infectious diseases. I have had the opportunity to do a wide variety of jobs within research; research coordinator, dedicated study recruiter, and nurse manager.

3)LPNtoBSNOnline.org: What is the most challenging part of your job?

Figuring out how the “getting from here to there” logistics between the study objectives to the final analysis. Also, creative problem solving, juggling multiple priorities, and organizing the myriad of details can be quite challenging. But if it wasn’t challenging, I wouldn’t like it very much!

4)LPNtoBSNOnline.org: As a Nurse Coordinator, what skills are absolutely essential to be successful in your line of work?

Research Nurse Coordinators need to be organized, able to work in a team environment, and critically think. You can learn everything else. I just would like to mention that every course is an important stepping stone to the BSN. The BSN will give the student a well-rounded perspective for whichever professional avenue they want to pursue. It is also very helpful if they work in a clinical area after graduation to gain some experience as an RN before heading into a specialty like research.

Classes in a BSN program like anatomy and pharmacology are the fundamentals and subsequent classes will require students to put the fundamentals into practice as they assess their patients’ physical and psychological needs. As a research nurse coordinator, I am taking the fundamentals of the research protocol objectives along with Good Clinical Practice principles in order to develop the logistics for conducting the clinical trial.

5) LPNtoBSNOnline.org: You’ve worked on quite a few substantial research projects over the years with other nurses as well as physicians. What sort of training, both in school and on the job, did you receive prior to working on these projects?

I got my foot in the door by having my RN and good clinical skills and have had formal and informal training every day since then. My best teachers have been my research investigators.

6) LPNtoBSNOnline.org: You are currently working on a new book. That’s incredibly exciting. Could you share with us a little bit about the book and what it entails?

No details can be released yet. My co-author and I are hard at work and we expect it to be completed early in 2015. Stay tuned!

7) LPNtoBSNOnline.org: Many of our readers are LPNs looking to becoming RNs and possibly nurse practitioner down the road. Do you have any advice for prospective students when it comes to researching degree programs? What considerations are most important, in your opinion?

There are many avenues for research education. There are academic programs for research at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Professional organizations offer introductory training and continuing education for research professionals. Employers and study sponsors require ongoing education on topics such as clinical practice, regulations, and HIPAA.

There are many professional research career tracks besides those of research nurse coordinator and investigator. I have nurse friends who work as monitors and project managers for the pharmaceutical industry, as regulatory specialists for federal agencies, as specialists in information technology, or medical sales.

8) LPNtoBSNOnline.org: What would you say are the five most essential skills nurses need in today’s diverse and challenging healthcare environments?

  1. Ability to recognize the need for change.
  2. Ability to adapt to change.
  3. Ability to manage change.
  4. Ability to lead change.
  5. Ability to forecast changes-if you have this down, you have it made!

9) LPNtoBSNOnline.org: What other tips or words of advice do you have for our readers as they prepare to advance their education and become a registered nurse?

Dedicate the time to really learning the course material, not just passing a test. Your nursing program will help you focus but understanding where the course information came from and where to go to learn more will help you be a lifelong learner. Enjoy this time; these are the “good old days”.


Search for online Nursing colleges

Find the LPN to BSN program that's right for you by filling out this short form below: