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What is the most difficult aspect of being a clinical research coordinator/administrator?

For any current CRAs or CRCs: what is the most difficult part of your job? Do you have any strategies to help deal with these issues? #CRC #CRA #career #clinicalresearch

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Ken’s Answer

The most important aspect of being a clinical research coordinator/administrator is how it relates to you as a suitable career area for you to follow based upon your personality characteristics.


Getting to know yourself and how your personality traits relate to people involved in various career opportunities is very important in your decision making process. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I ran across too many students who had skipped this very important step and ended up in a job situation which for which they were not well suited. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. First you have to be properly fitted for the correct size, and then you need to try on and walk in the various shoe options to determine which is fits the best and is most comfortable for you to wear. Following are some important steps which I developed during my career which have been helpful to many .

Ken recommends the following next steps:

The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. You can locate them by asking your school academic advisor, favorite teachers, and the reference librarian at your local library. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##
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Joann’s Answer

Being a Clinical Research Associate (CRA) isn't difficult, however there are some key skills, besides a vast understanding of medical terminology, that one must have to be a successful CRA.
1. Having some prior experience in the medical field is very beneficial, but not a must as a particular indication or protocol can be learned. Just be sure you have the drive and ambition to learn. Make sure you have a good mentor has you break into the research industry. The good mentor will be able to support your training and advance your career.

2. Organization is key! As a CRA you may have to juggle several protocols with different sponsor companies and have to travel to several different investigative sites. Depending on the study (ies), a CRA may be assigned upwards of 4-8 sites to manage. Keep a schedule of visits, your prior travel plans and stay in close contact with your Clinical Trial or Project Manager, as your schedule could change based on the amount of data that needs to be collected at a site, or if there is a data cut, additional visits may need to be scheduled. If you find your schedule overwhelming at times, inform your manager sooner than later. It is better to be proactive and ask for help instead of getting berried in reports, expenses and travel plans.

3. Keeping up on your expenses. Unless you are working because you love the work and don't need the nice paycheck, it is important that you keep up with your expense reports. Depending on the company, much of the time you are spending your own well earned money upfront on travel and then you have to wait until you are reimbursed. If this is the case, why would you want someone other than yourself to hold onto your money. Try to submit your expense reports within a day or two of your site visit. (There are several apps that allow you to take pictures of your receipt and enter/submit your expenses on the same day the expense occurred.) This will ensure timely reimbursement and money back in your pocket. Your money is much better than the hotel and airline points. If you use a corporate card, the same holds true and it is important that the company has your expense information so that they too can manage their finances in a timely manner.

4. Good writing skills are good to have. After a site visit a report is required to document the activity performed while on site. Ideally you can write your report while on site. This takes some practice and it is achievable over time. It also saves so much time! Set up a OneNote tab for notes during the visit, or type your notes in the report itself, only to delete some of the information for the final report. Remember, you don't need to write a book, but you do need to be able to highlight the most relevant information from your visit. A 10 day turn around on a report is totally achievable. Writing your report during the visit or shortly there after will allow you to recall key points from the meeting and answer any questions the reviewer may have.

5. Travel sense. This kind of falls into the category of organization, but it is good to keep good travel records to take the guess work out of booking future visit. Many travel apps allow you to pull up prior travel arrangements. If this is not the case, keep a notebook of your travel, which includes flights, hotels, restaurants, car rental companies and any notes about these services.

Being a CRA is a very rewarding job and a great stepping stone to get into greater leadership roles in the pharma and CRO industry. Good Luck!
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