I work in clinical trials, AMA!

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Charlotte's Web
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#1
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#1
To provide a bit of background...

I work in clinical trials and my job title is Clinical Research Associate. This in very basic terms involves monitoring clinical trials to make sure that the data collected is reliable, and that the safety of people participating in trials is maintained.

Happy to answer any questions about clinical trials in general, what my job involves and to provide any advice to people considering a career in clinical research - or just anything else you might want to know
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Butterflyshy
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#2
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#2
(Original post by Charlotte's Web)
To provide a bit of background...

I work in clinical trials and my job title is Clinical Research Associate. This in very basic terms involves monitoring clinical trials to make sure that the data collected is reliable, and that the safety of people participating in trials is maintained.

Happy to answer any questions about clinical trials in general, what my job involves and to provide any advice to people considering a career in clinical research - or just anything else you might want to know
What did degree did you take and do you need a master's?
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Charlotte's Web
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(Original post by Butterflyshy)
What did degree did you take and do you need a master's?
I initially did a nursing degree, generally any 'life sciences' including healthcare degree is accepted (although I think if you had an unrelated degree but relevant experience you'd also be considered).

You don't 'need' a masters but many of us either have one or are working towards one. I started an MRes in Health Research back when I was nursing and I'm just finishing it up now. I'm not sure yet whether it will be particularly beneficial.
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Candieeeyx
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(Original post by Charlotte's Web)
To provide a bit of background...

I work in clinical trials and my job title is Clinical Research Associate. This in very basic terms involves monitoring clinical trials to make sure that the data collected is reliable, and that the safety of people participating in trials is maintained.

Happy to answer any questions about clinical trials in general, what my job involves and to provide any advice to people considering a career in clinical research - or just anything else you might want to know
where do you work and hows the salary?
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Charlotte's Web
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#5
(Original post by Candieeeyx)
where do you work and hows the salary?
I (obviously) can't say the specific company or salary, but it's one of the major CROs (Contract Research Organisations). If you don't know what these are, essentially they set up and carry out clinical trials on behalf of a drug company - this helps to make sure the trial is really impartial but also lets the drug companies focus on what they do best - developing new drugs.

In terms of salary, I'm fairly happy with it, it's a fair bit more than I was making as a specialised research nurse. It does vary by CRO - some are more generous than others. If you have some research experience initially it does impact your salary too. There are estimates on Glassdoor and Payscale which seem fairly accurate. I also get around £5.5k in car allowance too which gives my salary a nice boost.
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username5352678
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#6
do you enjoy your job?
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Charlotte's Web
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#7
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(Original post by no.1 equestrian)
do you enjoy your job?
Sorry for the late reply - totally missed this

I do get a lot of enjoyment from it, yes, mainly because it allows me to really work within my strengths. Like every job there are aspects I enjoy more (providing training, visiting sites) and bits I enjoy less (tracking documents, finance...).
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90 cent
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#8
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#8
(Original post by Charlotte's Web)
To provide a bit of background...

I work in clinical trials and my job title is Clinical Research Associate. This in very basic terms involves monitoring clinical trials to make sure that the data collected is reliable, and that the safety of people participating in trials is maintained.

Happy to answer any questions about clinical trials in general, what my job involves and to provide any advice to people considering a career in clinical research - or just anything else you might want to know
i have a few lol i want to be one too that's why


1. what a-levels did you do? what was your strongest one?
2. i plan to do Mpharm at BSc, can i go into clinical/drug trials if i do a masters more specific?
3. is there a salary bracket you can provide? (if you can't it's fine )
4. do you travel for work a lot? what kind of environment do you work in?
5. is there any patient contact involved?
6. are there levels to the career? (promotion)
Last edited by 90 cent; 2 years ago
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Charlotte's Web
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#9
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#9
(Original post by Yas031119)
i have a few lol i want to be one too that's why


1. what a-levels did you do? what was your strongest one?
2. i plan to do Mpharm at BSc, can i go into clinical/drug trials if i do a masters more specific?
3. is there a salary bracket you can provide? (if you can't it's fine )
4. do you travel for work a lot? what kind of environment do you work in?
5. is there any patient contact involved?
No worries - happy to help!

1. I did English, Chemistry and Biology (plus History and Photography at AS). My A levels were pretty rubbish, English was my strongest one. A levels aren't really important when applying for these jobs, employers are much more interested in your degree.

2. It depends what you want to do within clinical research, but generally you will need a life sciences degree or relevant experience. Looking at some job descriptions online should give you a basic idea of what is required. I'd advise that relevant experience is usually the best way to get into the field.

3. Again it depends what specific role you want to look at, Glassdoor etc. have fairly accurate salary ranges you could look at. I'm a Clinical Research Associate, my job can vary quite a lot depending on the type of company you work for and your level of experience etc., but generally you can earn anything from 28k-45k as a rough estimate. Bear in mind there may also be bonuses, and things like a car allowance on top of your salary. Most employers don't publish the salary in job descriptions, annoyingly.

4. I'm home-based so spend most of my time working from home. Some employers do have CRAs working on site in their offices but most now take a more flexible approach. How much travel you do really depends on your employer and even the type of monitor you are within the company. Generally we do risk-based monitoring, so we don't travel to sites on a set schedule, but just as and when needed. I can therefore have a month where I do 4 or 5 visits, and then a month with none. If you're working in the early phase drugs or more critical studies you will be on site more often.

5. Not in my role, no. If we were to have contact with patients we could potentially impact study data and it would be a major issue in terms of the integrity of the trial. If you want a role that has patient contact you'd be looking at something like a Study Coordinator or a Clinical Trials Coordinator (much of the same thing, different name).

Hope that helps - let me know if any of that wasn't clear!
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Charlotte's Web
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#10
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#10
(Original post by Yas031119)
6. are there levels to the career? (promotion)
And the final one:

6. Yes, lots of different levels. Again it does vary by employer - if you work for a really small organisation they may have fewer levels. Generally you will start off as a trainee CRA, then CRA1, CRA2, Senior CRA 1 and then Senior CRA 2. Some employers also have a level 3. There will be clear distinctions between the roles with increasing responsibility. It's something that was quite important to me when choosing a role because in my previous one I didn't really have scope to progress in any direction.
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90 cent
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#11
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#11
(Original post by Charlotte's Web)
No worries - happy to help!

1. I did English, Chemistry and Biology (plus History and Photography at AS). My A levels were pretty rubbish, English was my strongest one. A levels aren't really important when applying for these jobs, employers are much more interested in your degree.

2. It depends what you want to do within clinical research, but generally you will need a life sciences degree or relevant experience. Looking at some job descriptions online should give you a basic idea of what is required. I'd advise that relevant experience is usually the best way to get into the field.

3. Again it depends what specific role you want to look at, Glassdoor etc. have fairly accurate salary ranges you could look at. I'm a Clinical Research Associate, my job can vary quite a lot depending on the type of company you work for and your level of experience etc., but generally you can earn anything from 28k-45k as a rough estimate. Bear in mind there may also be bonuses, and things like a car allowance on top of your salary. Most employers don't publish the salary in job descriptions, annoyingly.

4. I'm home-based so spend most of my time working from home. Some employers do have CRAs working on site in their offices but most now take a more flexible approach. How much travel you do really depends on your employer and even the type of monitor you are within the company. Generally we do risk-based monitoring, so we don't travel to sites on a set schedule, but just as and when needed. I can therefore have a month where I do 4 or 5 visits, and then a month with none. If you're working in the early phase drugs or more critical studies you will be on site more often.

5. Not in my role, no. If we were to have contact with patients we could potentially impact study data and it would be a major issue in terms of the integrity of the trial. If you want a role that has patient contact you'd be looking at something like a Study Coordinator or a Clinical Trials Coordinator (much of the same thing, different name).

Hope that helps - let me know if any of that wasn't clear!
thanks so much! yeah i'm leaning more towards patient contact
I've been informed pharmacy is classed as a life sciences degree so that's good
i would imagine there's quite a lot of competition for bigger companies.
i am all for travelling a lot and moving around so i hope there'll be a specific role that fits that
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Charlotte's Web
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#12
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#12
(Original post by Yas031119)
thanks so much! yeah i'm leaning more towards patient contact
I've been informed pharmacy is classed as a life sciences degree so that's good
i would imagine there's quite a lot of competition for bigger companies.
i am all for travelling a lot and moving around so i hope there'll be a specific role that fits that
If you're leaning in that direction then it's definitely a site-based role you would be looking at, something like a study coordinator. Bear in mind that the actual treatment of patients is done by registered healthcare professionals (doctors and nurses) so although you will have contact with them it's likely to be more administrative.

These jobs are competitive regardless of the company - there are pros and cons in terms of bigger and smaller ones so they appeal to different people. Bigger companies do tend to have a greater number of vacancies, but also more applicants.
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90 cent
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#13
(Original post by Charlotte's Web)
If you're leaning in that direction then it's definitely a site-based role you would be looking at, something like a study coordinator. Bear in mind that the actual treatment of patients is done by registered healthcare professionals (doctors and nurses) so although you will have contact with them it's likely to be more administrative.

These jobs are competitive regardless of the company - there are pros and cons in terms of bigger and smaller ones so they appeal to different people. Bigger companies do tend to have a greater number of vacancies, but also more applicants.
tyy
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408655
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(Original post by Charlotte's Web)
To provide a bit of background...

I work in clinical trials and my job title is Clinical Research Associate. This in very basic terms involves monitoring clinical trials to make sure that the data collected is reliable, and that the safety of people participating in trials is maintained.

Happy to answer any questions about clinical trials in general, what my job involves and to provide any advice to people considering a career in clinical research - or just anything else you might want to know
Hey I was wondering if I could ask you some for some help aswell, because I am stuck in a situation where I am finding it challenging to get job interviews or attract potential employers to my profile on job websites. I think many other graduates this year can relate to me, and the chances of achieving ideal job prospects in this generation are overly competitive because of the large volume of candidates and the recent economic recession.

Essentially, I'm a recent graduate with an undergrad degree in psychology/neuroscience. I've applied to about 25 or so clinical trial positions - most of them are for Clinical Trial Administrators, because I contacted some employers on LinkedIn and they advised me working as a CTA is a good place to start in clinical trials as a fresh graduate. I also wanted to read up on how I can use LinkedIn more efficiently/ wisely so that employers in clinical trials would be impressed with me. But my profile is not blank at all, I put in a lot of detail about my degree and my previous jobs.

So far, I just keep getting rejection emails and I think this is perhaps because I am not the most competitive candidate, primarily because I have no previous experience in administration. I regret that I did not do a placement year as part of my degree, because I think the placement year would have provided me with connections to employers prior to finishing university. To date, my jobs so far have been working in retail stores and restaurants with customers.
However, I did pay a professional CV writer (who is experienced in the life sciences field) a few months ago to rewrite my CV for me in the context of a graduate looking for work in clinical trials. Despite using this CV to apply for the jobs, I don't have any good results just yet.

I'm just thinking what I need to do differently. But I have been in contact with a recruitment agency lately, although it's not one of those ones mainly focused on employees for the pharmaceutical/ life sciences industry. This one has a range of sectors (but pharmaceuticals is not one of them), but my thinking was to get some sort of administration role with them for a few months and then move on to a pharmaceutical company.
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Charlotte's Web
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#15
(Original post by 408655)
Hey I was wondering if I could ask you some for some help aswell, because I am stuck in a situation where I am finding it challenging to get job interviews or attract potential employers to my profile on job websites. I think many other graduates this year can relate to me, and the chances of achieving ideal job prospects in this generation are overly competitive because of the large volume of candidates and the recent economic recession.

Essentially, I'm a recent graduate with an undergrad degree in psychology/neuroscience. I've applied to about 25 or so clinical trial positions - most of them are for Clinical Trial Administrators, because I contacted some employers on LinkedIn and they advised me working as a CTA is a good place to start in clinical trials as a fresh graduate. I also wanted to read up on how I can use LinkedIn more efficiently/ wisely so that employers in clinical trials would be impressed with me. But my profile is not blank at all, I put in a lot of detail about my degree and my previous jobs.

So far, I just keep getting rejection emails and I think this is perhaps because I am not the most competitive candidate, primarily because I have no previous experience in administration. I regret that I did not do a placement year as part of my degree, because I think the placement year would have provided me with connections to employers prior to finishing university. To date, my jobs so far have been working in retail stores and restaurants with customers.
However, I did pay a professional CV writer (who is experienced in the life sciences field) a few months ago to rewrite my CV for me in the context of a graduate looking for work in clinical trials. Despite using this CV to apply for the jobs, I don't have any good results just yet.

I'm just thinking what I need to do differently. But I have been in contact with a recruitment agency lately, although it's not one of those ones mainly focused on employees for the pharmaceutical/ life sciences industry. This one has a range of sectors (but pharmaceuticals is not one of them), but my thinking was to get some sort of administration role with them for a few months and then move on to a pharmaceutical company.
So in terms of things like LinkedIn - this is really important in the clinical research industry. Lots of jobs are not actually advertised and recruiters do definitely use it to seek out candidates. Putting a lot of detail isn't necessarily beneficial - you need to ensure that you use the right tone and that you lean your profile into clinical research. There are lots of useful webinars for Linkedin on Eventbrite which I would recommend - these will walk you through each step.

I would caution against the use of CV writers - there is no such thing as a one size fits all CV, your CV needs to be tailored to each position you apply for, and to reflect the language used in each job description. It also needs to be ATS compliant, otherwise you may be screened out before anyone even sees your CV. Again, there are loads of free webinars which will teach you how to write a really good CV. You are much better off investing time to give yourself the skills to write your own CV than investing money to get one CV that isn't tailored to any specific job.

Recruitment agencies are less relevant, particularly for entry level positions. In this field they are really only useful for more senior roles. I would recommend if you do want to seek one out then only go for one focusing on life sciences but again, I don't think that route would be worth spending a huge amount of time on. By all means sign up but don't sit around waiting for them to find you a role.

I think you may have a slightly skewed idea of the CTA role. Obviously this varies by employer but while it is an administrative role, it isn't really like admin roles in other sectors so I don't think these would really be considered relevant experience. In some settings the CTA is a Clinical Trials Assistant - and while they do deal with admin it is a lot more complex than a regular admin role if that makes sense. I would suggest trying to look at a few job descriptions to really get an understanding of the role. You may need to broaden your search - there will be things like data entry roles which would be relevant experience, lab work, trial coordinator roles. You should consider both commercial and academic settings, and consider working both on the side of a CRO and study site. This will give you a much wider range of roles you can apply for.

The thing with clinical research is, as you say, that it is a very competitive field. For these sorts of positions you have lots and lots of candidates so standing out amongst them when you don't have any relevant experience is really hard. There are some companies offering internships, graduate schemes and also there is the possibility of requesting work experience which might be useful. I would recommend if you haven't already, contacting your university careers service to see if they have any links to employers or contacts that might be beneficial to you. There are also lots of online courses you can take. I would personally recommend this one from the ACRP https://acrpnet.org/courses/introduc...inical-trials/
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HelenaRac
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#16
Do you have any interview tips for someone applying to be a Clinical trials assistant?
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Charlotte's Web
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#17
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(Original post by HelenaRac)
Do you have any interview tips for someone applying to be a Clinical trials assistant?
I think really the most important skills you would need as a CTA are:
- Being able to balance competing priorities - you will likely have a number of studies to work on, and different people (CRAs, study managers, your line manager) asking for different things from you.
- You need to be able to plan ahead (i.e. be aware of study milestones coming up and plan accordingly and importantly proactively) but also be prepared for requests at short notice.

You also need to demonstrate a good general understanding of clinical trials, how they are approved and structured. I always recommend this short course https://acrpnet.org/courses/introduc...inical-trials/

For your specific role (after you complete the above) you really need to focus on clinical trial documentation. Be aware of ICH GCP (R2) and the documents needed at different stages of the study, and what your role is in ensuring that documentation is correct for the investigator site files.
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HelenaRac
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#18
(Original post by Charlotte's Web)
I think really the most important skills you would need as a CTA are:
- Being able to balance competing priorities - you will likely have a number of studies to work on, and different people (CRAs, study managers, your line manager) asking for different things from you.
- You need to be able to plan ahead (i.e. be aware of study milestones coming up and plan accordingly and importantly proactively) but also be prepared for requests at short notice.

You also need to demonstrate a good general understanding of clinical trials, how they are approved and structured. I always recommend this short course https://acrpnet.org/courses/introduc...inical-trials/

For your specific role (after you complete the above) you really need to focus on clinical trial documentation. Be aware of ICH GCP (R2) and the documents needed at different stages of the study, and what your role is in ensuring that documentation is correct for the investigator site files.
Thank you, what do you mean by R2? I have looked in ICH GCP, do you have a link for this resource, there are a lot of different websites.
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Charlotte's Web
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#19
(Original post by HelenaRac)
Thank you, what do you mean by R2? I have looked in ICH GCP, do you have a link for this resource, there are a lot of different websites.
Revision 2. You should be able to find it without issue but as I mentioned you really do need to review the introduction to clinical trials first or it won't make much sense to you.

https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documen...-step-5_en.pdf
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tinygirl96
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#20
Describe a typical day to day.
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