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Many people change careers at least once over the course of their lifetimes. The career you choose when you’re a young adult doesn’t always suit your needs once you get older. After years in one field, you can get burned out or stressed. Or, the employment outlook for your field can become poor, forcing you to look for other career options.

If you’re currently working in a healthcare-related field, you may be interested in a new career in clinical research. This is an exciting specialization within the healthcare field. For some people, it can be the perfect choice for a fresh start in a new career. Here’s what you can expect from a career in this exciting field.

Job Duties

Clinical research associates (CRAs) work on clinical trials. Clinical trials are medical studies that determine whether or not treatments or devices are safe. These trials follow strict standards to ensure the results are reliable. They’re one of the last stages in the research process. After a treatment or device has shown promise in the lab or with animal trials, it can move to clinical trials.

That’s where CRAs come in. They review the requirements for clinical studies and conduct pre-study visits. They implement clinical studies by communicating with members of the study team. Supervising clinical studies is another job duty. As a CRA, you could monitor the study and ensure the study is complying with protocols and regulatory requirements.

CRAs ensure the study is high quality by participating in audits or inspections. Once the clinical study is finished, they close the study and write closure visit reports.

Work Environment

As a CRA, your work environment can vary. Some days, you could be working in a typical office environment and sitting at a desk. On other days, you could be working in a clinical environment and spending time on your feet.

CRAs generally travel frequently. An average CRA will spend three or four days travelling each week. New CRAs should expect to do a lot of travelling at first, but they may get the opportunity to travel less frequently once they’re more experienced. With experience, fully office-based jobs are available.

If you love travelling and working in new environments, this could be a fulfilling career for you. On the other hand, if you aren’t able to travel or don’t like travelling, you may not be happy as a CRA.

Employment Options

There are many different types of companies and organizations that employ CRAs. Companies in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, or medical device industries need to employ CRAs to test their new treatments or devices. Government agencies or academic health centres may also need CRAs. Research organizations are another possible employment option for graduates. You could also find work with international organizations or non-governmental organizations.

Required Education

To get started in this field, you’ll need a post-graduate diploma in clinical research. To pursue post-graduate studies, you need to have already completed a post-secondary program. Different colleges have different pre-requisites for entering post-graduate studies in clinical research. Check with your college to see if your diploma or degree meets admission requirements.

Clinical research professionals come from a variety of backgrounds. Healthcare fields, like nursing, pharmacy, or biology, could prepare you for post-graduate studies in research. A background in an analytical field, like statistics, could also prove helpful. If your degree or diploma is in another field, you may still be eligible for admission.

Once you’ve completed your post-graduate diploma and gotten some work experience, you can become certified. The Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA) certifies clinical research professionals. Its International Certification Program is based on internationally accepted standards. Getting certified helps you prove your skills and stand out from the competition.

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