dcsimg

Career Story: Clinical Research Associate For A Pharmaceutical Contractor

Clinical Research Associate For A Pharmaceutical Contractor

Job Title: Clinical Research Associate (CRA)

Type of Company: My company is conducting a phase II clinical trial for a drug that's been approved overseas. I monitor the study to make sure that the subjects exist, the protocol is followed, and the side effects are recorded.

Education: BS, Applied Nutrition, Penn State University •• MS, Clinical Nutrition, New York University •• Registered Dietitian, Bronx Veterans Administration Medical Center

Previous Experience: I began working in hospitals as a registered dietician for AIDS patients. Later I cross-trained as a liver, renal, medical and ICU dietician. I started working as a research coordinator for a nephrology practice and then became a clinical research associate. First I worked for a contract research organization and I now work for a biopharmaceutical company.

Job Tasks: I brief and inform doctors, pharmacists and research coordinators on a study protocol that's been approved by an institutional review board (IRB). I'm the principal liaison: the person the site nurses call when there's a question about the protocol. But I do more than just sit back and answer phone calls. I travel to sites and read medical records to monitor the data they've captured, which includes demographic information, medical histories, laboratory results and side effects (or adverse events, as they're known -- these may or may not be related to the study drug or procedure). I write reports about my visit to the site and work with the site to resolve "action items." I review regulatory documents at the site. These mostly consist of CVs, licenses, and documentation that shows that people who are working on the study are well-versed in the details of the study's objective. IRB documents include the hospital or clinic's approval to conduct the study, annual review of the study, and submission of safety reports from the sponsor.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: You have to love traveling. Depending on the job you take, you can end up traveling as much as three-quarters of the time. Contract CRAs generally travel the most and have higher hourly wages. I love that I have traveled to parts of the US that I would probably never have visited otherwise. I have a passion for food and enjoy eating local foods. Work days can be very long when traveling. There are weeks where I work in four different cities in one week. I enjoy doing different things every day and no two days are the same.

Job Tips:
1. Work in a hospital to gain an understanding of the spectrum of diseases and of the medicines now used to treat them. Otherwise, you won't be able to review medical charts to capture possible side effects of the device or medication being studied.

2. Flex your flexibility muscles. If you like a structured, predictable work environment and don't like to work independently and travel alone, this job is not right for you.

3. Work as a research coordinator to understand the constraints and challenges of the job, prior to becoming a clinical research associate.

Additional Thoughts: My job is not as glamorous as people think when they hear that I travel. When I travel I work on site in a city for a full day and am not visiting a city as if I'm on vacation.

If I could change one thing about my career preparation, I would go back to school to be an RN, since opportunities for RNs are more numerous and the majority of employers prefer CRAs who are registered nurses. To be successful as a CRA you need to have a very good understanding of medical conditions, public speaking skills to train study staff, writing/computer capabilities and an ability to multi-task. Priorities and circumstances can change rapidly and you never know what to expect.

Popular Schools offering Laboratory Science Programs

quickinfoClick the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab. .

Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school

Matching School Ads
Unitek College
Fremont

Unitek College™ is a privately held vocational school dedicated to helping you gain the skills needed to advance your career or begin a brand new career. 

  • Programs: Pharmacy Technician
  • Degrees: Certificate

American Career College (ACC) offers hands-on training that will prepare students for careers in the healthcare industry at three campuses in Los Angeles, Ontario, and Orange County, California.

  • Programs: Pharmacy Technician
  • Degrees: Diploma

Concordia University - Portland offers several fully online 14-month Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs and a fully online Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) program.

  • Programs: M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Science
  • Degrees: Master

Pursue your education at Ohio Christian University.

  • Programs: Associate of Arts in Business - Agribusiness
  • Degrees: Associate

Nursing Degree Programs from Grand Canyon University's College of Nursing & Health Care Professions

  • Programs: Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership, M.S. in Nursing with an Emphasis in Leadership in Health Care Systems (Bridge), Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Degrees: Doctorate, Certificate, Bachelor
Platt College
Online

Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.

  • Programs: Medical Administrative Specialist, Medical Assisting, Respiratory Therapy
  • Degrees: Associate, Bachelor
California College San Diego
National City, San Diego, San Marcos

The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started

  • Programs: Medical Specialties (AOS)
  • Degrees: Associate

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

  • Programs: Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Administration, Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator
  • Degrees: Master

Change the World with American University

Be a part of something bigger than yourself.

  • Programs: Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management , Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Degrees: Certificate, Master
Brightwood College
Bakersfield

About Brightwood College

Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

  • Programs: Medical Assistant
  • Degrees: Associate, Diploma
Matching School Ads
You are visiting:

What are Career Stories?

Career Stories are concise, real-world career overviews written by people relating their personal career experiences and wisdom. They provide invaluable insights and mentoring advice to students and career changers.

Most stories include:

  • a typical day or project
  • tips and advice
  • best and worst parts
  • educational background
  • previous experience

Browse hundreds of Career Stories

More Details On This Career

Please also see our detailed information about Biological Technicians, including:

Back to Top