Nurses and Midwives

Nurses and midwives are by far the largest group of health and care professionals and have an unparalleled contribution to clinical research and making a real difference to patients’ lives.

The new NIHR Senior Research Leader: Nursing & Midwifery Programme aims to place nurses and midwives at the forefront of health and care research, raising their profile and affirming their contribution to the wider research community. Find out more about applying to become a Senior Research Leader

The NIHR Nursing and Midwifery Incubator has been established to accelerate capacity building and support the development of a skilled clinical academic research workforce across the nursing and midwifery professions.

Starting your career in research


What opportunities are there for a nurse or midwife to get involved in research?

Nurses and midwives can get involved through supporting research, finding out about research studies underway in their ward or department, and making sure patients and members of the public are given opportunities to take part. 

Nurses and midwives can also join the fantastic research delivery team; clinical research nurses and midwives play a vital role in delivering and leading research, and improving patient care. Their responsibilities include inviting patients and healthy participants to join research studies including clinical trials, providing nursing care, undertaking study procedures and developing new drugs, treatments, care pathways or regimens.

There are also opportunities for nurses working in social care to engage with research. Find out more on our social care practitioners page.

The Census for Registered Clinical Research Nurses and Midwives, conducted by the NIHR in partnership with the devolved nation research nursing and midwifery leads and the Irish Research Nurse and Midwives Network, shows there are at least 7,469 clinical research nurses and midwives across the UK and Ireland with opportunities to join the profession at every level, and potential for career progression.

Find out more about why you should be considering a career in research nursing in our blog from 70@70 leader Helen Moore and her daughter Lucy:  Inspiring the next generation of research nurses - a mother and daughter’s experience

Research Nurses and Midwives and COVID-19

During the many COVID-19 related studies, clinical nurses and midwives worked alongside research nurses and midwives to get new studies up and running. 

During the pandemic, research nurses and midwives have been instrumental in supporting vaccine studies and vital treatment studies such as Recovery and REMAP-CAP, which led to the now widespread and global use of steroids in hospitalised patients. We continue to anticipate and meet emerging challenges and opportunities for nurses and midwives to improve health outcomes through research.

Read the NIHR Nursing & Midwifery Associate Directors reflections on how research nurses have responded to the global pandemic.

How can I get started in my research career?

Developing your career in research with the NIHR

Nurses and midwives can access clinical academic career development opportunities through the Integrated Clinical Award (ICA) pathway, delivered in partnership with Health Education England.

We support the development of a skilled clinical academic research workforce across nursing and midwifery through our NIHR Nursing and Midwifery Incubator programme. 

Find out more about our research training awards, offered through the HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme and NIHR Fellowships Programme.

 Learning and support

All research staff are also required to undertake training to ensure they meet the standards set out in the Good Clinical Practice guidelines for clinical trials, which in England can be accessed via NIHR Learn.    

Find out more about NIHR learning and support opportunities.

Nursing and Midwifery at the NIHR

The NIHR Nursing and Midwifery vision is to inspire nurses and midwives to improve health outcomes through research.The two aims for 2022-24 are:

  • to enable nurses who support, deliver or lead research to develop, and work to their potential
  • to develop a pipeline of research nurses and midwives

There are a number of projects underway to address these aims, including career pathway development for all health and social care settings where nurses are engaged with research. Supporting, delivering and leading research are valued equally by NIHR Nursing & Midwifery.

NIHR Nursing and Midwifery initiatives

Senior Research Leader: Nursing & Midwifery Programme

Following the success of the NIHR 70@70 Senior Nurse and Midwife Research Leader Programme, we are pleased to announce that we are looking for 15 senior nurses and midwives from a range of health and social care backgrounds with demonstrable ability to utilise their research leadership and networking skills at a local, regional and national level in order to embed a research active culture amongst nurses and midwives within their organisations and beyond. 

Find out more about the programme and apply.

70@70 Senior Nurse and Midwife Research Leader Programme

The three year 70@70 Research Leader programme, named as such to celebrate 70 years of the NHS, concluded in March 2022. The programme was aimed at senior nurses and midwives to promote the importance of a vibrant integrated research culture.

The 70@70 programme implemented over 300 different research initiatives and reached at least 3000 nurses and midwives.  Our leaders championed  innovation and informed research priorities in their organisations. It increased the support, delivery and leadership of research by nurses and midwives across different parts of the health and care delivery system.

Examples of local and national achievements from the previous 70@70 SNMRL cohort include:

Reproductive Health and Childbirth Champions

Reproductive Health and Childbirth Champions are research midwives and nurses, one or more in each Local Clinical Research Network, who use their experience to deliver research that benefits patients, fosters collaborative learning and provides learning and professional development opportunities. They are an integral part of the NIHR Reproductive Health and Childbirth Specialty Group.

Stakeholders and Partnerships

NIHR Nursing and Midwifery work closely with NHS England’s Chief Nursing Office to ensure that our values and vision relating to research for nursing and midwifery are aligned. The recently published CNO’s Strategic Plan for Research ‘Making Research Matter’ was informed by a national advisory panel, with stakeholders including NIHR Nursing and Midwifery.

Other key partnerships include the International Association of Clinical Research Nurses (IACRN) and the UK Clinical Research Facility Network (UKCRF).

Meet the team 

NIHR Director of Nursing and Midwifery

Professor Ruth Endacott was appointed inaugural Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the NIHR in May 2021. Prior to her appointment, Ruth was Professor of Clinical Nursing at the University of Plymouth and Monash University, Melbourne and Deputy Chair of the NIHR Clinical Doctorate Research Fellowship panel. She has held leadership positions as Head of School, Head of Department and Associate Dean (Research) in the UK and Australia.

Associate Directors of Nursing

Jennifer Allison is an Associate Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the NIHR and Lead Matron of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility. She leads a large team caring for paediatric and adult patients, and healthy participants, in early phase and complex experimental medicine studies. On the Senior Management Team of the UKCRF Network, she is Workforce/Education Theme Lead, building and maximising relationships across the NIHR and UK and Ireland research infrastructure. This compliments her NIHR role where she focuses on developing the workforce and opportunities for nurses and midwives to undertake rewarding careers in research.  She is the immediate Past- President of the International Association of Clinical Research Nurses and remains on their Board. 

Dr Catherine Henshall MN, RGN, MA, PhD is an Associate Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the NIHR and is Programme Director for the 70@70 Senior Nurse and Midwife Research Leader Programme. She is responsible for leading national strategies aimed at supporting nurses and midwives to contribute to, undertake and deliver research across England. She is a Reader in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes University, the Head of Research Delivery at Oxford Health NHS Trust and Co-Director of the NIHR Oxford Health Clinical Research Facility.

Clinical Fellows

We are pleased to announce the appointment of three Clinical Fellows who will shape and deliver strategic initiatives for nurses and midwives across the NIHR and beyond.

  • Sharon Dorgan has 14 years' experience in the Clinical Research Network. She is passionate about providing opportunities for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals to continually grow their research knowledge and skills. Sharon will be working on an accelerated associate principal investigator scheme for nurses and midwives.
  • Louise Wolstenholme is an NIHR 70@70 Senior Nurse & Midwife cohort member, experienced health visitor and practice educator. She has an interest in building research capacity in community-based nursing. Louise will be working on research roles in Community, Public Health and Social Care.
  • Cindy Whitbread is an NIHR 70@70 Senior Nurse & Midwife cohort member and Lead Research Nurse at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Cindy has a breadth of knowledge and experience leading clinical research studies within mental health and acute care settings.Cindy will be working on Career pathways for Research Nurses and Midwives.

Contact us

NIHR Awards, events and campaigns


Nursing Times Awards 

The NIHR are proud to sponsor the Nursing Times Awards Clinical Research Nursing category which recognises the essential contribution of the clinical research nursing workforce. From 2022 we are also sponsoring the same category at the Student Nursing Times Awards


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