When I left my clinical research coordinator position, I thought I had completed my last CRF. Well, I was wrong. In an unexpected turn of events, I actually completed one last week. Let me explain why.
Though I no longer work directly with patients, my perspective on clinical research is strongly rooted in my experience as a clinical research coordinator. And I want it to remain strongly rooted in that experience.
The Clinical Research Site Perspective
As a digital strategy and patient recruitment specialist, I spend a fair amount of time analyzing data. And I enjoy it. It’s exciting to extract new insight that will inform current and future patient recruitment. Data can tell you so much. But it will never tell you everything. In fact, some of the most important insights do not come from data.
Somewhere, physically or digitally, the data I collected as a clinical research coordinator sits. It’s been neatly categorized and cleaned for analysis. And it’s been stripped of the humanity of the research participant that contributed it. As it needed to be. That’s what scientific rigor demands.
But behind all of that data is people. And I learned a lot about these people as a study coordinator. I still remember many details about their families, lives, and personalities. And I remember how it felt to watch them improve or deteriorate over the course of my time with them.
Many of these details were not captured in the data. For clinical trial data collection, such details are not relevant. But they are important.
These details, along with my experience in study execution at the site level, were the source of great insights. And these insights have positively contributed to my perspective on clinical research and patient recruitment. So I try to stay connected to the research site experience, even though I no longer work in that capacity.
Study Coordinator For a Day (or Two)To this end, I recently attended a study coordinator training put on by Aureus Research Consultants. I knew that some of the training would be a review. But I also knew I would learn a lot as well.
The people at Aureus are extremely knowledgable from years of monitoring, auditing, and training. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn from them, while getting back to my roots as a study coordinator. And that’s how I unexpectedly found myself completing a CRF during a workshop exercise. (I’m happy to report that I avoided writing any notes-to-file.)
I had pretty high expectations going in, but Aureus exceeded them. The training was very comprehensive, covering all the details study coordinators need to in order to excel. But I think where Aureus really distinguished itself is in how those details were relayed. Two things really impressed me.
Aureus Study Coordinator Training: A Brief Review
First, Aureus did not shy away from the gray areas. It would have been easy to cite regulations along with clear cut examples of how they applied. But the reality of working as a clinical research coordinator is that some issues do not fit neatly into simple regulatory boxes. And it’s better to ponder gray areas proactively, rather than being blindsided when they arise in a research site setting. So the people at Aureus raised challenging questions and helped us to think through them.
Second, real world examples were weaved throughout the entire training. Aureus employs people with years of monitoring and auditing experience, both past and current. So they could relate the training materials to direct personal experiences. Hearing about these experiences not only made the training more interesting, but it also facilitated learning in a way that purely hypothetical examples cannot.
The most memorable moment, for me, was as Aureus Managing Director Alicia Pouncey emphasized an essential point, remembering the people behind the data. As I mentioned earlier, this connection was a big reason I chose to attend the training. Alicia eloquently illustrated her point with personal experience, making the discussion all the more meaningful and real.
Need Clinical Research Training? There’s A Class For That
I was very impressed with the Aureus clinical research training, and I highly recommend it. The class I attended was created for study coordinators and served that purpose extremely well. Aureus also offers classes for investigators and CRAs, which I’m sure are equally good.
But the Aureus training would certainly benefit those who don’t necessarily fit one of these roles. I, along with others, attended in order to better understand the reality and perspective of clinical research sites.
Beyond training, Aureus also offers monitoring and auditing services for sponsors. As a former research coordinator, I know first hand that knowledgable and supportive monitors are key to research site (and thus clinical trial) success.
The Value of Continuing Clinical Research Education
Regardless of your role in clinical research, I think we can all benefit from additional education, both formal and informal. Training specific to our roles is undoubtedly valuable.
But I think education outside of our individual roles is also very beneficial. Understanding the perspective of patients, as well as clinical researchers in other roles, creates empathy. That empathy allows us to step out of our silos, thus facilitating collaboration. And to quote the DIA theme for this year, we must “collaborate to innovate.”
Comments? How can clinical research professionals benefit from training? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Disclosure: My fee for attending the training was generously waived by Aureus. This waiver was without any conditions or requests whatsoever. I’ve chosen to write about my experience because I think the people at Aureus are doing fantastic work that would benefit other clinical researchers.
I’m Laura. I have a BS in Biology and have worked as a dental assistant, have shadowed physician assistants and I am now volunteering in the ER of a hospital. Worked at a lab my last year of undergrad and I am currently working on a MS in biomedicine.
I became interested in being a CRA but I dont have much knowledge on how to get training, or if anyone would hire a person with my credentials.
I’d appreciate it if you or anyone would give an advise
Master of Biomedical Science Candidate, Barry University’13
B.S. Florida Atlantic University’11
Rahlyn Gossen says
I don’t have too much insight on making the transition to CRA because I was never a CRA myself. But I know that plenty of others have made that transition, so it’s doable.
I think a good place to ask that question might be clinical trial related Linkedin Groups. Another good community to ask is the ACRP forums. You have to be an ACRP member to participate in the forums, but they are great.
Also, if you haven’t already, I suggest you spend some time on the Lead CRA blog, which has a lot of great info about being a CRA.
Hope that helps, and good luck!
Rahlyn Gossen says
I think it depends on how much refreshing you think you need. If you think you could use some refreshing, an Aureus training is a great way to do that. It also might give you an edge as you seek employment.