In recent years, clinical research associates or CRA’s for short have gained quite a lot of attention. It has been acknowledged as one of the top job positions, but little is known about this profession. What exactly does a CRA do and what is the job really all about? These questions have perhaps come to mind for many who would like to work in this interesting field.
What it’s All About
A clinical research associate deals mainly with research processes, as the name of the profession implies. However, a CRA does not necessarily have to conduct the research personally. Rather, they oversee the process of research and ensure that the entire procedure goes smoothly. In short, a CRA “monitors” the research procedure and ensures that researcher’s follow the proper clinical trial protocol at all times to obtain the correct data. The CRA also controls that these processes are performed in line with regulations of the food and drug administration, FDA and Good Clinical Practice, GCP.
Working as a CRA
As professionals in this field are making their way to the forefront and demands have become higher, there are two major options in terms of finding work. For those who seek to do long term research assistance and monitoring on a single therapeutic area, they can work directly under a specific company. This will mean working directly for a specific research staff. On the other hand, those who want to undergo monitoring of various research projects may opt to work for a contract research organization, CRO, or as a freelancer.
A freelance CRA can work independently and with a number of different researchers that are sponsored by the company currently being worked with.
Are there Any Perks and Disadvantages?
Like any other job in various industries being a clinical research associate comes with its ups and downs. One of the major factors of holding a job like this is being able to travel. Often time’s clinical trials are not conducted in a single area. These are widespread and may require going from one place to another to monitor data. For the jetsetter, this may be a good opportunity to travel as research can be done in several cities or countries, and even across continents. Of course, so much time spent travelling may also mean having to be away from home and family for extended periods.
Another up side to being a CRA is the opportunity to interact and learn from others. This is not limited to professionals but may spread across cultures as well.
Is there a Catch to Becoming One?
There is no catch to becoming a clinical research associate, however not everyone can simply become one. For starters, some employers may look for candidates who have a background that is associated with the job. Those who hold degrees in psychology, science, sociology and the like may have an advantage given their familiarity with research environments. Also, some research facilities prefer to work with certified CRA’s. Certification for this profession can vary from place to place and some countries and facilities do not even require such. The good news is that for those that do, there are many courses which cater to educating and certifying those interested in this profession.
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