Who Didn’t Know What They Didn’t Know?

wedidntknow I just returned from the ACRP Canadian Chapter meeting (more on that in my next post) and I was so interested to hear about the many different ways our members have found themselves in the clinical research profession. There is such diversity from people ‘falling into’ their roles to others consciously seeking out a career in clinical research (shockingly few in this category, unfortunately). I find it fascinating.

I’d love to hear from you, fellow researchers, about your experience transitioning to a role in clinical research.  Did you have to find your own way?  Did you have a mentor or guide to assist you?  How easy or difficult a transition was it for you?  How do we get more people to choose clinical research vs. falling into it?

11 thoughts on “Who Didn’t Know What They Didn’t Know?

  1. My story is somewhat different. My dear friend had come to me saying how bad I looked (bags under the eyes, pale, etc…). I reassured her that as a Peds ICU nurse it came with the territory. I had just recently had 12yo cystic fibrosis patient die, 2 yo patient that had gone through a windshield for the SECOND time, and had assisted in cracking a chest in the PICU and that was only 1 week of activity. I WAS exhausted and frankly spent. I had been in that job for 7 years! She worked for a CRO that was local and was looking for a clinical person to come work in the Pharmacovigilance dept. I laughed and said I only knew bedside nursing.I knew NOTHING about research. Well that was 1997 and I have been in the research field ever since. She changed the course of my life! I owe her big!
    Exposure is everything and we owe it to future research employees to create opportunities to learn. It is our own loss if we don’t.

  2. The Research Triangle Park Chapter of Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP-RTP) has developed a program called CROP (Careers in Research Outreach Program) to introduce the clinical research field to Triangle area middle and high-school students. This local chapter has partnered with the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP.org) to offer CISCRP’s online Ambassador training to high school students so that they can receive a non-commercial introduction to the topic of participating as research volunteers or beginning professional careers in clinical research. Innovative chapter based outreach programs, like this one sponsored in the RTP, NC, region may help to increase awareness of career opportunities in research. I love being a part of a professional development community that works to address and fulfill the needs of emerging industry professionals! – Laurin Mancour

    • Wow Laurin, this is a fantastic idea! i really like it. Would love to get involved in something like this locally!! Cheers!

  3. I fell into this field but had a great mentor/trainer in the very beginning. She was an Oncology Research Nurse. I was hired as her research assistant. She taught me all of the ins and outs, how to deal with the doctors, how to collect data from the source, how to coordinate with the other departments. It makes all the difference having someone good mentor you in this field.

    • Hi Janette,
      Thank you for sharing your experience. I know there are so many of us that ‘fell into’ clinical research and I really look forward to a day where it can be an educated choice. I believe one thing that sets clinical research apart from a lot of other professions is the willingness of those with experience to mentor and guide new employees. I hope that never changes!

  4. I am one of those who actively sought out a career in clinical research. I had graduated with a Masters’ in exercise physiology and had decided to move away from academic life. A number of other my fellow students who had graduated before me were working in clinical and it appealed to me. Unfortunately I found it difficult to break into the business without clinical experience – a common problem for many new-comers. Although I had skills in medical science, research methods and analysis, and data handling, what I was really missing wasan understanding of and experience with GCP. I got my break with a contract in data management, where I started to learn the regulations, understand the process and gain experience in a GCP-regulated environment. From there, I eventually established my career in clinical research as a CRA.
    I never dreamed of being a clinical research professional when I was a kid – I didn’t even know it existed until late in my university life. Awareness of the profession for high school and university students might help to boost interest and certainly help the public perception of clinical research.

    • Jim,
      Thanks for your comments. I think it’s great that the industry is gaining some recognition and that you could ‘choose’ to pursue a career in clinical research. I do agree we still have a long way to go but I look forward to the journey and to the outcome of increased visibility of the profession to those seeking out post secondary education and choosing a career path!

  5. I wish I had known about clinical research as an option in college. I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor, but didn’t know what else to do and ended up doing bench research. As an extrovert, this wasn’t a great fit, but I was fortunate enough to have a friend in clinical research. The transition was a bit hard since everyone wanted a nurse or someone with experience, but I have now been in the field for over 8 years and love it. I think we’d have more people interested if the profession were more visible and it was presented a great career option for a variety of backgrounds- Psychology, Biology, Chemistry, and Nursing all come to mind.

    • Hi Laura,
      Thanks for your comments, I couldn’t agree more. I know that there are some initiatives afoot that ACRP is participating in that will result in an increased recognition of clinical research as a profession and bring awareness of clinical research to colleges and universities so that students can choose a career in clinical research. I can’t wait to see the fruits of these labors!

  6. This is a great discussion. I, believe it or not, found my first clinical research job from an advertisement for a Clinical Research Associate in the Toronto Star newspaper (with that comment, I am totally aging myself too!). I came from an academic, bench research environment. Luckily, I was fortunate to have an amazing mentor: Nancy McCullough. She was able to guide me and even today her words often echo in my head. She was the best! I was very fortunate and have kept in touch with her over the years. With her guidance, the transition went well. I love clinical research and Nancy is a big part of this!

    • Hi Kim,
      It seems to me that having a strong and passionate mentor can make all the difference in a transition like this. I had to same with my clinic director and I credit her with introducing me to the industry and I am so grateful to her. I try and pay this forward at every opportunity and I think it’s critical that those of us with experience are willing to guide and mentor those newer to the industry!

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