Miriam Chicurel-Bayard, RN, credits her colleagues with enhancing her career and allowing her to focus on patient care. For the past four years, she has worked as a research nurse at the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) Network’s University of North Carolina (UNC) Clinical Research Site in Chapel Hill. Chicurel-Bayard sees study participants, running any tests required for the trial and making sure patients are not adversely affected by the protocol.
“Thankfully, I benefit from the skills of highly specialized co-workers who manage all the regulatory tasks so I am able to focus on seeing patients for study visits and helping to coordinate their clinical care,” says Chicurel-Bayard. “HIV research is a very exciting field, filled with folks who are passionate about their work and care deeply about the patients they serve. I value the opportunity to learn from my many compassionate co-workers.”
A desire to take care of people motivated Chicurel-Bayard to attend nursing school at UNC. Prior to attending nursing school, she had her first taste of research working in Columbia University Medical Center’s Psychiatry Department with substance abusers in New York City. This experience prompted her to look for jobs in research with marginalized populations upon graduation.
“In all of my jobs, I have been able to work with populations who are often overlooked and suffer from stigma,” says Chicurel-Bayard. “I feel fulfilled by the relationships I build with patients over time and am continually amazed and honored by the trust they put in me and our team.”
David Currin, RN, A.C.R.N., C.C.R.C., has worked closely with Chicurel-Bayard since she joined the UNC site and says she has been instrumental in implementing the site’s use of a new clinical research patient management system.
“I can always count on Miriam to be a great team player,” Currin says. “Her skills as a coordinator are impeccable, and her people skills translate into happy and satisfied study participants. Miriam took the lead when we rolled out EPIC at UNC, and was instrumental in problem solving how research was to be integrated into EPIC. It is a joy working with Miriam!”
Chicurel-Bayard coordinates multiple clinical trials at the UNC site for research networks including the ACTG as well as industry studies. She says the first ACTG study she worked on involved developing creative ways to attract participants to the trial. She has noticed many of her young, male patients find staying in care difficult. She says patients from rural areas travel to the clinic to avoid the stigma they may face seeking care closer to home. From outreach strategies to study visits, Chicurel-Bayard says each moment at the site has reaffirmed her professional decision to become a research nurse.
“I love the cerebral component of my job, which feeds my natural curiosity and love of science,” she says. “In addition to empowering our patients to contribute to the future of HIV treatment, I hope that participating in clinical trials gives them an edge in navigating the health care system, which can be so daunting.”
Susan Blevins, RN, MS, ANP-C, works as an adult nurse practitioner with Chicurel-Bayard at the UNC ACTG site.
“Miriam is such an asset to our group,” says Blevins. “She has an incredible ability to explain very complicated studies and concepts to prospective research participants. She brings to her job an intellect and a creative energy that powers her skill to coordinate some of the most difficult protocols and to develop different strategies to recruit and retain study participants. Her genuine interest in her patients does not stop after a study visit is completed. She makes sure that they stay connected with their HIV clinical providers and is often overheard on the phone linking patients with unmet financial needs with available community resources.”
Chicurel-Bayard hopes future ACTG studies focus on how having a chronic infection takes a toll on the body as well as cure research. She remains excited to be a part of the UNC ACTG team and continues to grow as a nurse.
“I am overwhelmed by the generosity and exceptional care that I witness from the physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants I work with,” Chicurel-Bayard says. “Without a doubt, they are the most caring and considerate providers I have ever been honored to collaborate with. I am inspired every day by their commitment to their patients and to the research that improves patient care.”
When she is not working at the UNC site, Chicurel-Bayard enjoys many creative outlets including throwing pottery and designing jewelry. She also sings in a band that is about to release their third album.