A CRA is otherwise known as a monitor. They’re “clinical research associates”. They are the ones that the CROs or the sponsors of a clinical trial send out to the research sites to sort of audit the sites on an ongoing basis. Those of you who work in the industry and certainly those of you at research clinics are very familiar with CRAs. For those of you who want a little more information on how to become a CRA this is where to start.
What would you recommend for an aspiring CRA to do?
You should be in a post graduate program, that is really good. I highly recommend it. They kind of teach fundamentals of research, good clinical practice, CRA responsibilities and things like that. In addition to that, which is a very good start by the way, the education is always important. You want to have solid experience. Most CRAs that I’ve ran into in the field, in the real world, most CRAs that I deal with on a daily basis started out as coordinators, clinical research coordinators.
My advice would be to either intern for a couple of months at a research clinic as a research coordinator, maybe a research assistant, or actually get hired and maybe work for a year or two at a research clinic as a research coordinator. Like I said, most CRAs that I’ve come across actually started out as study coordinators. That’s what I recommend. There are tons of programs. I’m not going to name any names, but there are plenty of programs out there, just do a Google search on clinical research associate programs or clinical research associate courses. There are tons of courses.
As far as educational requirements goes, usually they want bachelors in some kind of science related stuff. There have been exceptions. There are people who have Bachelors of Arts that are CRAs, but usually they want someone with a little bit of a science background. So you should have a Bachelor of Science. They want someone who can kind of understand some of the molecular components of research. Maybe be able to answer some of the investigator’s questions on a particular drug or just kind of understand and have a working knowledge of the science behind a particular drug or a particular study. That’s not a rule, but it’s generally what they’re looking for when they hire CRAs.
Another thing is just the experience, just the work experience and at least a Bachelor of Science. I’ve seen many people with masters degrees go on to become CRAs. Something with a science background and definitely a lot of work experience in the clinical research industry, preferably as a clinical research coordinator. There are no rules to any of this stuff. There have been cases that CRAs were hired as entry level CRAs. That is possible, but your odds are much better if you have some work experience as a clinical research coordinator.
Hopefully this answers your question.