What is Clinical Research and what are the benefits of working in this industry?

I believe that each one of us has taken a medicine for a certain condition at least once in our lifetime. 

Fact is that none of us wondered in that moment how that medicine ended up in the pharmacy and why it is used as treatment.

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Now that I got you thinking about this, the answer is simple: any medicine reaches us, the ones who need it, following and entire research process called clinical research!

What is the clinical research?

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Well, the clinical research represents that part of the medical science studying the safety and efficacy of future medicines meant for human use. This is a standard definition, but let’s see how it reached this phrasing. 

Let’s go in deeper detail and analyze these two words used next to each other.

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“Clinical” means it has a straight connection to examining the patients, so we can place the equal sign like so:

Clinical = Patients

There are several definitions for “research”, but I have found one on the questionpro.com blog, which I particularly like because of its simplicity and logic: „Research is defined as careful consideration of study regarding a particular concern or problem using scientific methods.”

We can therefore say without making a mistake that clinical research may be defined as a careful consideration of a study with patients’ involvement, regarding the safety and efficiency of a medicine/drug used as potential treatment for a certain disease.

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I hope that now it is much clearer that clinical research the study of new medicines with involvement of patients and it is done by means of clinical studies.

I am sure it sounds interesting, and it give you the impression that everything is done at a high scientific and procedural level.

I assure you it is precisely so!

Clinical Research is not just a definition, but an industry that puts new, innovative treatments to the disposal of humankind.

The most recent examples are the anti Covid-19 vaccines that have reached the population following several clinical studies.

Is it possible to work in this industry?

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Of course it is! If you have graduated a college or a university, you will have a high chance of finding a job in here. You may work in clinical research if you graduated medicine, pharmacy, biology, bioengineering, chemistry, engineering, IT, life sciences, social sciences or any superior educational form.

I have colleagues who have started out as teachers, engineers, psychologists and now work in medical studies project management!

It is therefore possible to have a high qualification job, that should ensure for you a brilliant, and there is no exaggeration here, professional and financial future.

Why work in this industry? What are the benefits? Is everything as attractive as they say?

These are questions I have asked myself 15 years ago when I started searching for a job in this field.

I can reveal some of the most important benefits you can have working in this industry.

Benefit #1

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The first one is knowledge. You will have the occasion to learn the entire process for developing a medical product, from the molecular stage to the moment it reached the shelf in a pharmacy. Knowledge is not limited to this alone. You will acquire new skills that are specific to this industry, but can help you in your personal life as well.

Benefit #2

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Personal development – working in a medical institution or in project management for clinical studies you develop yourself from all points of view:

  • Soft skills: communication, negotiation, flexibility and adaptability, public speaking and presentation skills, teamwork, critical and logical thinking, desire to learn, leadership, problem solving and the list goes on.
  • Hard skills: here you will certainly learn reports and medical writing, spreadsheets, project and system management, computer and application usage, database management and the list remains open here as well.

Benefit #3

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In Contract Research Organization (CRO) and Pharma Companies, the professional evolution depends mostly on yourself. You can evolve towards project management, people management, quality (auditor), regulatory, legal or finance departments.

If so far your have formed an impression that this is all a cliché, I can assure you it is not the case. Almost all my colleagues I had the chance and privilege of being a manager and a leader to, have advanced their careers. 

Even more so I can present you my own personal example: I have started out in this industry as CRA (Clinical Research Associate) and, filling in various roles – Lead CRA, Country Operational Manager, Regional Operational Manager, I have reached the position of CEO in CRN – Clinical Research Network.

Benefit #4

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The next benefit is a result of the embracing of any clinical research job. This is the certainty that you will always have a workplace in this industry if you do your part and deliver what is requested of you. Next to IT, clinical studies have been the least affected by financial crises or pandemic.

Even if your job becomes obsolete, the demand for qualified workforce surpasses the offer and as such, you can quickly find another job, you only need to look for it.

It is a certainty that when you check the employment web sites you will constantly find a list with open positions. The most are for CRA (Clinical Research Associate), closely followed by CTA (Clinical Trial Assistant), CTL (Clinical Trial Lead) and Project Manager (PM).

Benefit #5

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The financial aspect, which is a very important one, is also present here as a benefit and not just a random one, but a substantial one.

You can search on glassdoor.com for the salary ranges per annum of a certain position / role paid in your country.

The salaries in this field are over the average and when you reach the senior level in any of the CTA, CRA, CTL or PM jobs, your financial wellbeing is 100% guaranteed. Not all companies pay the same as it is impossible to have a common salary grid, but all employers tend to offer the salary of the workforce market.

This benefit is backed up by a significant workload, but no effort goes without professional and financial acknowledgement in this industry.

Benefit #6

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Building a professional relationship and networking. Maybe you will not understand from the beginning of your career how important it is to have a job that allows you to develop a professional network.

It is very good to create a network in clinical studies, but you need to also be an active part in it.

I have worked in several companies, but the professional relationships with the investigators and customers have made over 90% of the projects I was involved in to be a success.

Even more so, after 4-5 years in the field, you can work as freelancer as well. Then you will need a solid professional network to ensure a constant flow of projects.

Benefit #7

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Working in clinical research you will know what the new medicine generations are and what the trend is in medical treatments for the following years, before they even enter the market.

Moreover, you will know what kind of projects the investigators are interested in and how numerous is the patient pool a clinical study is addressed to.

This knowledge will help you professionally – because you will be able to accurately estimate the success rate of a project even before it begins and what is the effort level required so it is a success. It will help you also personally, in case you need the required knowledge to choose the best treatment option for your family and yourself, of course following the recommendations of the healthcare specialist.

These were the 7 most important benefits of a job in clinical research, as I see them, but there are others, too.

I hope that now you have a clearer image of what clinical research is and the benefits to work in this industry are.

Follow us on Clinicalresearchmentors.com if you want to know more about clinical studies and how to create for yourself career opportunities in clinical research.