Quality in Motion: Meet Our Mobile Clinicians: Hope Horton

Quality in Motion: Meet Our Mobile Clinicians: Hope Horton

Meet Hope Horton, a dedicated Certified Mobile Research Nurse (CMRN) at PCM Trials. CMRNs support clinical trial participation beyond traditional settings by traveling to trial participants anytime, anywhere to perform mobile visits. Through a series of questions, Hope offers an intimate look into the impactful and rewarding world of CMRNs, highlighting their crucial contributions to bridging the gap between research and real-world patient care.

Q: Can you discuss your role as a CMRN with PCM Trials, including unique career development opportunities and how those experiences have enriched your nursing career and shaped your professional growth?

A: By meeting study participants where they are, both physically and psychologically, people are often more likely to participate in a trial; We also see improved visit completion and compliance. CMRNs help ensure the integrity of trials by remaining educated and up to date on study requirements and facilitating effective communication with trial participants so they know what to expect during a mobile visit.

As a CMRN, I have had the opportunity to work at mobile research unit (MRU) events. This was an entirely new role for me and taught me adaptability, first, in working within a small space (on the mobile unit) and second, in learning how to recruit participants in a variety of new environments – from a parking lot to a state fair!

Q: What key skills and qualities are essential for success in a CMRN role, and how does PCM Trials support the development of these skills? What innovative approaches and techniques have you employed in mobile trials that have enhanced study efficiency and/or patient experience?

A: The ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances is a key skill in the CMRN role. A participant may want to have a visit performed on the front steps of their house due to health or privacy concerns, or they may be on a Zoom call during a visit and want to present their arm just out of the camera’s view so they can keep working: These are all scenarios that must be approached with professionalism, kindness, and flexibility. PCM Trials supports the development of key skills by thoroughly training the CMRN on how to complete a visit per the study protocol. Additionally, the study project team is available to field questions and provide guidance on the fly if any issues arise.

I was once notified by a site that one of my study participants had very challenging veins. In addition to advising the participant to hydrate in the days leading up to the visit, I also suggested she take a bath on the day of the visit to help make her veins more prominent. I was able to communicate my estimated time of arrival for the visit so she could time the bath just before my arrival – that is something you certainly can’t do in a clinical site setting!

Q: How did you ensure high-quality, patient-centric care during mobile visits, and what measures did you take to maintain strict adherence to clinical trial protocols and standards during mobile visits?

A: When I call a participant to schedule a visit, I always walk through what they can expect during the visit; I believe educating participants is paramount to continued engagement in a trial. If I am performing the first visit for a study, I take extra time to review the study goals, procedures, risks, and benefits prior to the visit.

In preparation for a visit, I review the visit requirements and study protocol and make sure that I have all the necessary visit supplies, including backups. I also bring a printout of the training slide deck to each visit for reference. I am committed to completing visit procedures accurately and thoroughly. For example, there have been times when I have arrived to drop off samples at a shipping facility following a long visit and drive, only to be notified that FedEx had already picked up for the day. My motto is “I didn’t come this far to not see this through to completion” and have driven to another drop-off facility to ensure the samples were shipped on time. So, in short, being successful as a CMRN takes intentional care and commitment.

Q: Can you describe how your role as a CMRN directly contributed to the success and integrity of clinical trials and how the work of CMRNs helps advance the field of clinical research?

A: Many participants experience roadblocks that can make travel to the research site difficult, such as decreased mobility, or conflicting work schedules. By meeting participants where they are, we see increased accessibility and data quality in clinical trials.

Q: What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your role as a CMRN as compared to traditional nursing positions, and can you share an example of a memorable study that you’ve served during your career?

A: I find the continuity of care and the opportunity to get to know participants and their families in their natural element to be extremely rewarding. It can be challenging not having others to turn to during difficult procedures, but over time, that has encouraged me to learn to be creative and confident in my capabilities.

I never quite know what I will encounter in a certain home. I once performed visits for a participant for whom English was a second language and his older son translated for us. At one of the visits, the participant’s younger son, who was only 6 years old, took great interest in watching me perform an assessment of his father; He was mesmerized as he saw me listen to heart and lung sounds. After I finished my assessment, I put the stethoscope in the younger son’s ears so he could listen to his father’s heart and lungs, then did the same so the father could listen to his son’s heart and lungs. Each of their faces lit up as they listened to the other’s heart thumping and lungs expanding. It was a shared experience that transcended a spoken language.

Q: How has working as a CMRN with PCM Trials provided you with personal and professional fulfillment, and what would you say to nurses considering this career path?

A: The ability to provide people with access to medications and healthcare they may not otherwise have access to is an honor and a privilege.

Another memorable visit I performed was for a young girl with Rett syndrome. When I contacted her mother the day before the visit to confirm, she asked if we could reschedule – she was a single mother with three other children and explained that it was her son’s birthday, and she hadn’t had time to get a cake. If we rescheduled the visit, it would have been outside the visit window, and, more importantly, I wanted to help the mother who had her hands more than full.  I offered to pick up a cake for her son on my way to their home so that she wouldn’t have to. I chose the most decadent cake I could find and had his name and “Happy Birthday” written on the cake. I also picked up a dozen balloons and a headband that spelled out “Happy Birthday”. I messaged the mother as I was arriving and was able to slip the cake and balloons into the garage, so her son never saw me deliver them. That night, the mother sent me a photo of her son blowing out the candles on his cake while wearing the headband with the balloons in the background. Knowing that I was able to help the mother of a participant with such a small act of kindness was a great gift to me.

Hope’s story highlights the deep impact CMRNs have on patient care and clinical research. Her dedication to providing personalized, compassionate support invites the next generation of CMRNs to explore this rewarding career path and contribute to advancing the future of clinical research.

Learn more about how PCM Trials can support your clinical development program.

Email: [email protected] or Phone: 303‐253‐7470.

Interested in becoming a CMRN? View our available clinical research nurse positions here.