IACRN: International Association of Clinical Research Nurses

July 13 2022

Written by Noriko Fujiwara.RN.MS.CRN-BCTM,OCNS, CCRP, Clinical Research Nurse at NRG Oncology JAPAN, IMSTU hospital of the Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, JAPAN

Nurses are essential contributors in the clinical research enterprise, especially clinical research nurses (CRNs) who fill a vital role for research participants. The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) and The Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA) are known associations of clinical research professionals and provide professional certification. However, no association focused on nurses as clinical research professionals until 2009.

Professional “Research Nurse” Association

The International Association of Clinical Research Nurses (IACRN), founded in 2009,is the first professional nursing organization to focus on nurses who work in clinical research that directly or indirectly impact the care of clinical research participants across all clinical specialties. (IACRN & ANA, 2016a) In 1960, the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the US began funding general clinical research centers (GCRC), and in 1989 the nurse managers of these centers established an association for GCRC nurse managers. By 2000, the group expanded to include managers outside of the US. In 2006, the NIH funding mechanism for the GCRCs changed, and the National Clinical Research Nursing Consortium was established with the goal of advancing the specialty of clinical research nursing. In 2009, seven nurse managers created the IACRN, and the consortium merged with IACRN (Ness, 2022).

The vision of IACRN is “Enhancing clinical research quality and safety through specialized nursing practice." (IACRN, 2012)The research participant's care affects the participant's safety and the research quality, so the research nurse's core role is to maintain the balance between the patient's needs and protocol requirements throughout the whole process of research.

CRNs are specially trained nurses responsible for safeguarding research participants and the research protocol. Nowadays, the research field has been expanded, and clinical research extends out of specialized research units into real-world pragmatic trials. They work for clinics, hospitals, nonhospital communities, and wherever participants exist (Eckardt et al., 2017; McCabe & Cahill L, 2007; Ness, 2020). CRNs use other skills beyond basic nursing in their practice and protecting the current patients and helping future patients through research.

IACRN: Organization, Members, and Standard for Research Nurses

IACRN has held an annual conference since 2009. This year, 2022, will be the 14th annual conference. Membership continues to grow, and now IACRN has 439 members from 23 different countries, six committees, and 13 chapters worldwide. (Oct. 2021) (IACRN, n.d.)

In 2016, the American Nurses Association recognized clinical research nursing as a specialty practice and approved the CRNs Scope and Standards of Practice (ANA, 2016; IACRN & ANA, 2016b). There are 17 standards, and each standard has associated competencies. In 2021, a few members of IACRN developed CRN certification (CRNCC, 2022; IACRN, 2021). International members of IACRN are now considering a way to support CRNs who work in various countries to get the certification.

In 2021, the Clinical Research Nursing Core Curriculum was published. The curriculum is geared towards nurses new to the clinical research nurse role or those with little experience including CRNs in both direct care and study coordinator roles. The content includes the unique body of knowledge of the research process and delves further into specifics for clinical research nurses across all specialties (Eds. McCabe M. Ness E, 2021).

Advancements in Clinical Research Nursing Building Practice Excellence.

IACRN have provided many opportunities to share CRNs' expertise with national and international peers. For example, in 2014, an international panel discussion was held at the annual conference to share the basic nursing education system, research nurse role, and continuing education opportunities from different countries, including the US, Israel, Japan, and China. Now, international collaborations have developed into various events led by UK, Ireland and Africa chapter members with research nurses from about ten countries.

In 2022, IACRN will hold its annual conference in Atlanta on Oct 17-19 (IACRN, 2022).This conference will focus on advancing clinical research in nursing through cultivating and building specialty practice. The members of the planning committee of the IACRN annual conference value diversity and inclusion with various cultures nationally and internationally.

CRNs face the dynamic and complex global changes in clinical research. COVID-19 changed our communication with digital transformation, and the increasing complexity of regulations and research systems. In this situation, we need to be more flexible with a supple mind, compassionate, creative, and purposeful in collaborating with various stakeholders with different perspectives, including patients and the public, in our research nursing practices.

Research nurses can be key people to connect with among people who are related to research. Let’s join and make a future together.


ANA. (2016, October 18). The letter from American Nurses Association. https://iacrn.org/resources/Pictures/ANA%20Recognition%20Letter.pdf

CRNCC. (2022). Research Nursing Certification Council. https://www.crncc.org/

Eckardt, P., Hammer, M. J., Barton-Burke, M., McCabe, M., Kovner, C. T., Behrens, L., Reens, H., & Coller, B. S. (2017). All nurses need to be research nurses. Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, 1(5), 269–270. https://doi.org/10.1017/CTS.2017.294

Eds. McCabe M. Ness E. (2021). International Association of Clinical Research Nurses - Publications. https://iacrn.org/Publications

IACRN. (n.d.). International Association of Clinical Research Nurses - Chapters. Retrieved June 12, 2022, from https://iacrn.org/Local-Chapters

IACRN. (2012). International Association of Clinical Research Nurses - About Us. https://iacrn.org/aboutus

IACRN. (2021). International Association of Clinical Research Nurses - CRN Certification by Portfolio. https://iacrn.org/CRN-Certification-by-Portfolio

IACRN. (2022). 2022 IACRN Conference. https://iacrn.org/page-1863060

IACRN, & ANA. (2016a). Clinical research nursing : scope and standards of practice. American Nurses Association.

IACRN, & ANA. (2016b). Clinical Research Nursing: Scope/Standards of Practice. https://www.nursingworld.org/nurses-books/clinical-research-nursing-scope-and-standards-of-practice/

McCabe, M., & Cahill L, C. A. (2007). The clinical research nurse. American Journal of Nursing, 107(9), 13. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.NAJ.0000287481.78601.38

Ness, E. (2020). The Oncology Clinical Research Nurse Study Co-Ordinator: Past, Present, and Future. In Asia-Pacific Journal of Oncology Nursing (Vol. 7, Issue 3, pp. 237–242). Wolters Kluwer Medknow Publications. https://doi.org/10.4103/apjon.apjon_10_20

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