The Duties 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) who is the organizer of the research lab. A person in this role works closely with the study's principal investigator and oversees the team of clinical research associates. 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 55,000 clinical research coordinators in the United States, and the job market for this position is expected to grow 3.3 percent through 2027. The average salary for a CRC nationwide ranges from $35,500 to $65,000, 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, provides insights into her experience working as a coordinator.

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

Ramos notes that hours can vary for a CRC, depending on the workload of your current studies. A CRC accommodates visits for the study patients, but this is just a small part of a CRC's responsibilities.

Other tasks and responsibilities of a CRC may include:

  • Ensure each study patient is fully informed of the study 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, and 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 and assess whether or not a patient is eligible to enroll in a study 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 investigational medication.
  • Participate in web conferences and teleconferences for each study protocol in order to stay updated. 

Education, Training, and Skills Required

A bachelor’s degree is preferred but not required. 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. This is a plus but not required.

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

Employers for a Clinical Research Coordinator

Research facilities are a typical employer for CRCs. Another setting is working in a private doctor's office for a clinician who also conducts research alongside a private practice.

Career Track

A CRC can move up to become a team lead, site director, or start a research business.

They can even pursue working with sponsors to become a clinical research associate.

The Best Part of the CRC Job

Ramos notes that she really enjoys the interaction with all of her 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."

Challenges of Working as a CRC

Ramos says that the workload of visits and correspondence can be overwhelming at times.

She also notes the pressure of meeting timelines in reporting events to sponsors.

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