Hi, I am very grateful for your website as it has a lot of great information and resources. I need some direction in terms of how I can not only improve my chances of landing a CRA/CRC role but also to leverage my medical degree as a gold star with this endeavor. I realize without the monitoring site experience, it will be a bit challenging. I have worked in Gastroenterological oncology and stem cell research for the past 2 years. The projects i worked on were heavy on data documentation, reporting to FDA so a lot the GCP adherence, SOP, compliance issues have been part of my daily experience. I hit a wall when applying for CRA roles because lack of monitoring per se, any advice you can provide?
Unfortunately, i have recently been laid off, so now is a great time to really pursue this track-I am hoping you will be able to provide some practical suggestions.
Thank you in advance-
Thanks for the question PE!
I was almost in exactly your shoes 9 years ago. I was working as an MD, but got laid of as the clinic re-organized. During my education I had participated in clinical trials as an assistant during a summer and really liked it.
I was reading everything I could about GCP, FDA and the industry. -“This can’t be so difficult”, I said to my self. I will land a job as a CRA in no time!
I was wrong. Totally wrong.
Why it’s not that easy for medical doctors to jump into the pharma industry
- As a medical doctor you posses lots of valuable knowledge for a pharma company or CRO
- As a medical doctor with no experience in clinical research, however, you’re likely to never get passed square one with the wrong strategy
You have to realize that although you are well educated, you don’t know anything about clinical research. You don’t have a “drivers license” to work in the industry. Not yet.
How to leverage your medical background when seeking for a CRA job
There are basically two kind of companies seeking CRAs:
- Huge organizations with hundreds, or even thousands, of employees.
These companies doesn’t really care if you’re a medical doctor or not. Well, they might probably think it’s somewhat beneficial, but it’s not a huge advantage. Anyone with a BS and some kind of monitoring experience will actually get hired before anyone with an MD and no experience.
- Smaller CROs less than a hundred employees.
These are usually specialized in a certain research field or have some kind of unique profile. They will likely be very interested if someone with a clinical background, particularly an MD, will show genuine interest in their company.
Interesting, isn’t it? And why is it like this?
Aim for the smaller CROs when trying to get your foot in the door
Any company that are looking to hire people will ask themselves if the potential employee is a good investment, or not. -How can our organization benefit from this person here and now, and, in the long run?
Ok, but what’s the difference between the small and the larger companies here?
A huge CRO has numerous sections, several recruiters, a HR section, managers, senior managers etc etc. When these people are looking to hire a CRA, they are focused in finding someone that can get up and running quite soon. Someone that has experience. The recruiter at a large CRO doesn’t care that much if the company can benefit from your clinical background in the long term.
For a smaller company it’s different. A small CRO would usually love to have their own “in-house MD”. Doesn’t matter if your job title is CRA, CRC or whatever to start with. It’s a huge advantage to have someone with clinical expertise at the company. Someone that you can ask for advice regarding interpretation of clinical findings, guidelines, written information to patients etc.
Get some monitoring experience
You’ve probably heard this before, so I’ll keep it short. But the best way to land a CRA job is indeed to get some monitoring experience. And it’s not an exception if you happen be an MD. You can read everything about it here.
Best of luck!