Clinical research trials are studies that explore the safety and effectiveness of new medical treatments. These treatments include medications, strategies, and medical devices.
New treatments need to pass through multiple phases of trials before they can be used. In the first phase, the new treatment is tested on a small group of volunteers. If the first phase goes well, the treatment is tested on a group of 100 or more volunteers. If that’s a success, the trial is repeated with a group of 1,000 or more volunteers. Once the treatment is approved and on the market, trials continue to test long-term risks. Because there are many trial phases, the industry needs a significant number of professionals to implement and supervise the trials.
If you’re interested in clinical research trials, you may be wondering how you can start a career in the field. Here’s what you need to do to jumpstart your new career in clinical research.
Apply to a Clinical Research Post-Graduate Diploma Program
To become a clinical research professional, the first thing you need to do is go to college. Colleges in Ontario offer post-graduate diploma programs in clinical research. When you’re choosing a college, think about the college’s reputation, location, and tuition fees.
Since clinical research is a post-graduate program, you typically need prior post-secondary education to be admitted. A degree in a health-related field, like nursing or pharmacy, would give you a good background for clinical research. Related fields, like life sciences or health sciences, can also provide a good background.
If you don’t have any prior post-secondary education, but really want to work in clinical research, talk to your college counsellor. Some colleges have alternative entrance requirements. For example, extensive work experience may be considered equal to a college or university education.
Study Hard and Graduate
Once you’re accepted into a college program, it’s time to study hard. In college, you’ll get the opportunity to learn both theoretical knowledge and hands-on skills.
Theoretical knowledge gives you the solid foundation you need to succeed in clinical research trials. One aspect of theoretical knowledge is clinical trial regulations. As a clinical researcher, you’ll be responsible for making sure the trials comply with protocols. Theoretical knowledge also includes clinical trial ethics. Clinical researchers have to monitor trials to ensure the practices are ethical.
Hands-on skills give you the practical skills you need to be a clinical researcher. These skills include medical writing and technical writing. Clinical researchers have to write many reports at work. They have to write pre-study evaluation reports, initiation visit reports, follow-up visit reports, and closure visit reports. You’ll get a lot of practice doing this in college. By the time you graduate, you’ll be well-prepared for a clinical research career.
Look for Work in Clinical Research
After you graduate from college, you can start looking for your first job in the clinical research field. There are many companies and organizations that employ clinical researchers. You could be employed by hospitals, educational institutions, or government departments. You could also find work with pharmaceutical companies or clinical research organizations.
Keep an open mind when you’re job searching.
Become a Certified Clinical Research Professional
The Clinical Research Association of Canada certifies clinical research professionals. You can take its examination after you’ve gained at least one year of clinical research experience. The examination tests your knowledge of research ethics, quality assurance, and study management. It also tests your knowledge of regulations in Canada, the United States, and the European Union.
Becoming certified isn’t mandatory, but it’s an asset. Getting certified can help you stand out from other clinical researchers who haven’t taken the exam. This can make you more competitive as you look for jobs.