Accessible summary: This paper discusses the development of a mental health nurse clinician to a mental health nurse researcher. Understanding the theoretical and professional drives that shape mental health nurses clinical practice and how that links to becoming a researcher is discussed. Mental health nurses who conduct research have to often move between their clinical roles and that of the researcher, doing this safely using a reflective supervision approach enables the nurse to conduct the research from a stronger professional and ethical standpoint. The intention of the paper is to encourage mental health nurses to engage in research and development. Shifting between the positions of a mental health nurse clinician and a qualitative researcher has some parallels to the processes in the nurse-service user relationship. This paper addresses this development from practitioner to researcher in one mental health nurse's journey through a PhD study using constructivist grounded theory. The paper examines theoretical and professional drives that have shaped my clinical practice and the role of the researcher in constructivist grounded theory, the notion of the researcher shifting between insider and outsider status, and the importance of reflexivity in conducting research. These influences will be discussed in the context of the development of a constructivist grounded theory study of the delivery of health care to service users with a mental illness in general hospital wards.