You are interested in get a job a clinical research associate. Employers are looking for “experienced” clinical research associates. You can’t get experience if no one is wanting to hire you for the role and people who are hiring are looking for individuals with experience. Given that there is no “clinical research” major at colleges and universities, it can be quite challenging to get academic experience as well.
In this post, I’ll share with you how you can get that clinical research experience employers are looking for.
Become a Volunteer at a Hospital or Clinic
Hospitals are looking for people to volunteer. As a volunteer, your job can be as simple as moving patients on the wheelchair from one medical unit to another, helping out with social media efforts, writing articles for the hospital website or working with the hospital medical director on an clinical research project.
Each of these roles offer you unique perspectives that are necessary to understand as a clinical research associate. For example, the simple job of moving patients gives you an opportunity to interact with patients. It teaches you to listen and be empathetic. Helping a the hospital with writing articles for the website, you can gain valuable writing experience that you can utilize to write your monitoring visit trip reports. Working with a medical director will give you first hand experience of what it takes to set-up a research project at the hospital. If you are lucky, you may have the opportunity to present results from your research paper in an academic journal or at a scientific conference.
A part-time volunteer work for 4-6 hours a week is generally sufficient. You can apply for these volunteer positions directly through the hospital administration or emailing medical directors directly to see if they have a research project they can use some free help with. When you volunteer, take your work seriously and show up at the scheduled date and time. After volunteering for 3-6 months, you should be a better position to talk to potential employers about your experience and how it can benefit them should they decide to hire you.
Invest in Learning
One of the fastest way to demonstrate that you are serious about becoming a clinical research associate is to invest in learning. You can read regulatory guidance documents on different topics pertaining to clinical research industry. Regulatory agencies around the world publish guidance documents on various topics on their website. For example, the FDA has guidance documents on risk-based monitoring. Alternatively you can take a clinical research certification course. When you are taking classes, try to find opportunities to get some practical experience on an actual clinical research project. The best way to learn about potential opportunities to talk to your instructors. They would have connections in the industry and would be usually happy to introduce you to other clinical research professionals. You would get course credit for the project and also get hands-on experience working on a real-life project.
Start Working A Clinical Research Assistant or Coordinator
One way to demonstrate understanding of the clinical research associate role is to work as a clinical research assistant. Clinical Research Organizations (CRO) or hospitals that participate in clinical trials can provide such opportunities. CROs are usually looking for individuals with little or no experience to take care of administrative tasks. Hospitals are looking for research coordinators to enroll clinical trial patients, perform chart review or clinical trial data entry. Over 6-12 months, you will gain deeper understanding of the clinical research associate position.
Create Clinical Research Content on the Internet
One creative ways to show that you have “experience” is to create videos on Youtube or write articles on LinkedIn on different topics related to clinical research associate. For example, you can read regulatory guidance documents and make interesting videos or write online articles to share your learning. The key here is to be consistently produce high quality content over a period of 3-6 months. When you speak with potential employers and tell them what you’ve done, they are guaranteed to be impressed.
Attend a Clinical Research Conference
Association of Clinical Research Professionals and Society of Clinical Research Professionals hold annual conferences that are regularly attended by clinical research associates. These conferences can help you accelerate your learning about the latest challenges and opportunities faced by clinical research professionals.
If you are not from the US or don’t want to travel long distance, you can attend a local conference or meet-up. These conferences will jump start your know-how about clinical research. You can also network with other clinical research associates.
If you don’t have the funds to attend the conference, consider volunteering at one. The best part about volunteering is not the free ticket. You can list this volunteering experience on your resume.
Do you have other ideas on how to get clinical research experience? Or have feedback on this post? Please share in the comments section below.