A Day in the Life of a Clinical Research Coordinator

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In clinical research trials, the heart and soul of the trial is the clinical research coordinator (CRC). This vital role is important to the overall success of a research study; CRCs have diverse duties such as informed consent and ensuring that the study is run in compliance with the protocol and good clinical practices (GCPs).

According to Sokanu, there are approximately 52,000 clinical research coordinators in the United States, and the job market for this position is expected to grow 5.7 percent through 2022.

The average salary for a CRC nationwide ranges from $31,713 to $63,374, according to Payscale.com.

At a large clinical trial site such as Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc. (CTT), the CRC is a primary point of contact for everyone from sponsors to marketing to recruitment subjects for studies. Cynthia Ramos, CRC for women’s health studies at CTT, talks about her experience working as a coordinator in this informative question and answer session.

What Is Your Background as a Clinical Research Coordinator?

Ramos: I have been working as a CRC for 12 years. I remember my first day vividly: I started head-on helping report serious adverse events. I started working with a variety of cardiology research studies. I learned quickly that research has a language of its own,   It took me a few months to actually learn the research lingo. For the past 4 1/2 years, I have been working in women’s health conducting studies  for indications such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, hot flashes, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, dysmenorrhea, overactive bladder,  Genital warts, birth control, hypo-active sexual desire disorder,  and healthy women studies.

What’s a Typical Work Week like for a CRC?

Ramos: Hours can vary for a CRC. It just depends on the workload of your current studies.   As a coordinator you accommodate visits for your study patients; there are tight windows in which study patients can be seen for the study they are enrolled in. Conducting a visit is just a small part of a CRC’s responsibilities.

We are responsible the following:

  • Assure each study patient is fully informed of the study -- and all it entails -- at the time of the consent.
  • Create source documents for study visits.
  • Train staff who will be working on the study.
  • Communicate closely with monitors, sponsors, and Investigators.
  • Conduct procedures such as vital signs, blood draws, EKGs, bladder scans and assure they are seen by the physician at the required visits.
  • Act as schedulers. For example, assure study subjects are scheduled with the doctor and any other procedures that might be required to complete that visit such  as pap smears, endometrial biopsies, mammograms, transvaginal ultrasounds, bone scans, etc.
  • Gather lab results, or procedure reports, and assure the investigator reviews them in a timely manner.
  • Collect information for investigators to review/assess whether or not a patient is eligible to enroll into a study and/or safe to continue if they are already enrolled in the study.
  • Collect supplies from sponsors and ensure everything is accounted for such as lab kits, ancillary supplies, and most importantly, investigational medication.
  • Participate in web conferences and teleconferences for each study protocol in order to stay updated. 

    What Education and Training Are Required to Work as a CRC?

    Ramos: A bachelor’s degree is preferred but not required. Also, medical knowledge is preferred as well. However, many people start working in research with no experience and can receive on the job training and experience. Coordinators can get certified as well, this is a plus but not required.

    What Types of Companies Employ a Clinical Research Coordinator?

    Ramos: Research facilities -- such as CTT, where I work -- employ CRC’s as well as private doctors’ offices that conduct research alongside their private practice.

    What Skill Set Do Employers Seek and Value Most in a CRC?

    Ramos: Coordinators must be good at multitasking, organized, self-motivated and have good decision-making skills.

    What Do You like Most about Working as a C​RC?

    Ramos: I really enjoy the interaction with all my subjects.  Some studies last years and you build a close relationship with your study patients.  I also love to learn, and with research, you can learn so much regarding medications, procedures, medical conditions. I also feel privileged and excited to see when a medication or device that we had a part in researching becomes approved by the FDA.

    What’s the Potential Career Track for a CRC?

    Ramos: A CRC can move up to become a Team Lead, Site Director, start his or her own research businesses or even pursue working with Sponsors to become a Clinical Research Associate.

    What Are Some of the Challenges of Working as a CRC?

    Ramos: Some days you will feel overwhelmed due to the number of visits you conduct per day, along with corresponding with sponsors and meeting timelines in reporting events to sponsors.  But it is all worth it knowing you have a part in the forefront of medical research. 

    If you are interested in pursuing a career in clinical research, you may also be interested in learning more about the following healthcare careers online:

    • Quality Assurance Manager
    • Clinical Research Associate
    • Regulatory Affairs 

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