“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.”

HOW TO BECOME A CRA: PART 1


“How do I become a CRA?”

This question is usually ended with “How do I get two years clinical experience when no one will hire me without experience?” or “I have a (fill in the blank) degree in Clinical Research and no one will hire me. What can I do?
As with anything in clinical research, the answer is HARDLY just one thing. Why does this drug cause a side-effect? Why does drug A work better than drug B? It’s hardly due to one singular component and the same thought can be applied to the path  to becoming a clinical research associate.
Before we start, let me tell you how I fell into the CRA role*.
I left college with a four-year degree in Cell and Molecular Biology, and a minor in psychology. When I graduated, my heart was set on being a genetic counselor and I said to myself:
“I will never work in a lab”.
My first job was as a bench biologist at one of the top three vaccine manufacturers in the industry. Sigh. So much for not wanting to work in a lab, right? I stayed at this company for about a year and half before I was contacted by a recruiter from a top CRO (contract research organization)(1) to apply for a scientist position. Long story short, I left the vaccine company for the CRO.
I always knew that I wanted to work with patients/people in general. Let’s face it, working in the lab is a lot like working by yourself. You’re not meeting with clients, doctors, patients, or really anyone beyond the lab walls. I knew that genetic counseling appealed to me, but I really like working with drugs and vaccines. One day, I was searching around the intranet of my company and I kept seeing “clinical operations” and “clinical management” and “clinical research associate”. I knew what a CRA was, but never really thought much into it. I saw that my company offered a CRA training program available to anyone who was….well, available to complete the two week training. My wonderful boss allowed me to complete the training, and that jumpstarted my career as a CRA. I was transitioned into a CRA role soon after completing the training and I couldn’t be happier.
My story is just one unique route of becoming a CRA. For example, I have a colleague that I’ve known since high school that graduated with a psychology degree and is now a clinical research coordinator at one of the top Ivy League colleges in the US (not quite a CRA, but he’s well on his way).
Here are some common steps and tips in becoming a CRA:
    • Better Your Education
      • Most postings that you’ll find online for CRA positions require a four-year degree in Life Sciences. This can vary between biology, nursing, or any other degree that focuses on some science. If you don’t have this type of background, it might be beneficial to attend a university or college, even a community college, to begin your educational foundation. I would advise against looking for a certificate or Master’s degree in Clinical Research if you have zero clinical experience. Why? See the next bullet.
    • Take a pay cut
      • This is the piece of advise that nobody wants to hear, but it’s probably one of the best options. Industry demands CRA’s have two years of experience before companies will even look at your application. How do you even get that experience? Many years ago, before HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in the US)(2), volunteering/shadowing was an easy way to gain experience. Nowadays, shadowing any clinical professional can be a breach of confidentiality and is becoming increasingly harder to find willing mentors. So what’s a job-seeker to do? Take a pay cut by getting a lower position in clinical research at a CRO or pharmaceutical company. Companies are willing to hire within, and if you think about it, it makes sense. They’re able to see your work ethic, performance, and they most likely trained you from the ground up. If you don’t have that “two-year experience”, instead of looking for CRA positions, look for Clinical Trial Assistant (CTA), Project Assistant (PA), Clinical Administration (CA), or Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC) positions. Whether site or sponsor based, these positions are the foundations of any good trial and assist the CRA in their day-to-day operationsThese positions will train you the basics of clinical research.
      • Once you’re at a company that specializes in running clinical trials (such as a CRO or sponsor)(1), start looking for training programs that will continue your education in clinical research. Many companies have programs specifically for training new CRAs and these positions are internal ONLY – hence the importance of getting into a pharmaceutical company early into the process.
    • Do Your Research
      • As much as you want to be a CRA, is the CRA role a good match for you? CRAs tend to travel around 60-80% of the time, though there is an increasing shift in in-house CRAs (I’ll go over this in another post). If you don’t have a vast clinical background, will you be willing to put in the extra work to brush up on clinical research? Go to your local library and pull books that will give you some insight onto the guidelines and regulations of clinical trials in your country. Subscribe to as many social media outlets that focusing in clinical research as you can – ACRP (Association of Clinical Research Professionals) and SoCRA (Society of Clinical Research Associates) are two organizations that have a large online presence with a lot of resources available (2).  LinkedIn is a great resource that can link recruiters with job-seekers very, very easily.
    • Reach Out
      • I’ve met many a CRA that got their positions on simply on the basis of their passion and reluctance to give up. They were active in their job search and jumped at any and every opportunity to interview or ask more questions. Find a recruiter that will give you more information. If you’re not qualified for the position, ask what other opportunities might be available for you, or what skills you might need to brush up on. You need to prove to potential employers that you’re highly interested in becoming a CRA, and you have to take an active role in showing why.
  • Capitalize On Your Skills
    • Pharmaceutical companies and CROs can specialize in a wide variety or narrow scope of “therapeutic experiences”. An example is that a large pharma company can specialize from oncology to infectious diseases and everything in between. If you have experience in a given specialty, make it known and keep continuing your knowledge in that area. Also, if you have experience in medical/scientific writing, pharmacovigilance, regulatory, computer programming, or data management, add it to your resumé and be sure to mention the clinical significance.


source  CRA weekly blog

0 comments:

Post a Comment

About Blogger:

Hi,I,m Basim from Canada I,m physician and I,m interested in clinical research feild and web development.you are more welcome in our professional website.all contact forwarded to basimibrahim772@yahoo.com.


Let's Get Connected: Twitter | Facebook | Google Plus| linkedin

Subscribe to us