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Clinical Research as a Career. How do You get that very First Job? by Dr. Vera Madzarevic (originally in LinkedIn)


When I started my career in clinical research as science professional working for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies and later in contract research organizations, I dedicated myself to gathering and spreading the knowledge on what does it takes to get into a career in Clinical Research. In the late 1980’s there were not real programs dedicated to educate clinical research professionals, and information was very limited on what did a career in clinical research entitle. Most people at that time were self-taught, and together with limited industry programs, they gathered the necessary knowledge and experience on the actual job. As new regulations and international guidelines started taking effect in the 1990’s and with standardization on the requirements for submissions to regulatory authorities, research based companies increased the number of clinical trials and the expenditures on R&D increased accordingly. Together with that growth, a real need for better trained and experienced clinical research professionals developed.

The big question was how to get the right people with the right knowledge and experience to fill all those positions that become available. There was a need for a professional program to fill the gap that would allow professionals with the right background get there.

For that reason, in the early 2000, I developed a very successful program in clinical research that had 23 different courses related to the business of clinical trials. Students from various backgrounds in medicine, science, nursing, and engineering qualified to enter the program. All applicants had the aspiration to become clinical research professionals, and did not know where to start. My program allowed them to learn about the profession in record time with real examples and hands on, and quickly were able to get an insight on which jobs they could apply for, build a resume and apply for positions.

Of course, a program and a diploma by themselves are not the only factors to allow you get that very first job interview, but YOU as a professional and how you present yourself to stand out of the crowd.

In this 10 part series, I will be focusing on key topics and questions regarding the clinical research profession, as follows:

  • Do You have what it takes?
  • How do You get the first job in clinical research?
  • Volunteering vs. entry level jobs
  • The Catch 22: everyone asks for experience in clinical research, how do you get it?
  • Advancing your career in Clinical Research
  • Monitoring Clinical Trials, is that the career You want?
  • What does it take to become a GCP inspector?
  • Can You work in clinical research with an engineering or IT degree?
  • You want to work as a home-based CRA.
  • Going solo in clinical research – freelancing.

In this post I dedicate to answer the first question: Do You have what it takes?

To qualify for a program in clinical research or for a very entry level job you have to be/have as follows:

  • Professionals with at least a 4 year degree in medicine, dentistry, biology, biochemistry, pharmacy, nursing and related sciences from recognized institutions are ideal candidates that qualify for a training program in clinical research.
  • Previous experience in clinical labs, and/or as research scientists/associates enriches the candidate eligibility for a position in clinical research in the future. Any relevant experience can be of advantage to get that very first job.

What a clinical research professional should be?

  • It is very important to understand that the clinical research professional has to be knowledgeable of local and regional regulations, Good Clinical Practices, the declaration of Helsinki, Standard Operational Procedures, and
  • basic medical science as is human anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology.
  • Also they have to master the abilities to perform their jobs as monitors, auditors or inspectors, data managers, coordinators, investigators, research associates, safety associates/pharmacovigilance, clinical trial supplies associates/supplies managers, etc., and convince the prospective employer of that.
  • The clinical research professional must be able to understand all processes involved in clinical research and all the players involved to be part of the conversation.

And the most important, the candidate for a career in clinical research should be:

  • eager to learn continuously,
  • available to travel extensively,
  • able to work long hours,
  • able to communicate effectively in person and using the most advanced technologies, and
  • be very flexible and adaptable to change in an ever changing industry, the pharmaceutical clinical research industry.

To learn more about what I do and the programs developed visit our web sites, and for Canada, for Europe for the US.

Follow me to gain access to the other parts of this series of "Clinical Research as a Career. How do You get that very First Job?"

Also ask questions and comment, I will be happy to include the relevant answers in my next posts.