Clinical Research

An Interview with Jamie – A Clinical Trial Coordinator / Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC)

Are you thinking of working in a health care and hospital environment and thus making a big difference to improve people’s lives? Do you feel you have the capability of interacting with a large number of patients and managing a huge quantity of research data? If you do, then the following interview with Jamie would be an exciting read for you. In this interview Jamie talks about some roles and responsibilities of a CRC and why she is thoroughly enjoying working in as a Clinical Research Coordinator.  

What made you to apply for this Clinical Research Coordinator job?

I have always been fascinated by the healthcare industry. Since the time I was young I wanted to contribute to improving people’s lives in some way or the other. Initially I wanted to be a doctor but then I ended up completing my Masters Degree in Microbiology.  A CRC’s job profile was interesting for me as it gave me the opportunity to work directly with the patients, experienced medical doctors, and the staff of various pharmaceutical companies.  I had an excellent opportunity of making a significant contribution in helping new drugs get to the market faster and thus realizing my childhood dream of helping the community. I initially worked as a Clinical Data Coordinator for some oncology clinical trials but that was a desk job and did not suit my interests.

As a Clinical Research Coordinator, what is your work daily routine like?

I manage a clinical trial site here at one of the reputed hospitals in Singapore. I am currently working on some multi-centre randomised controlled clinical trials in the oncology therapeutic area. It is extremely busy as we have more than 900 study subjects enrolled across multiple studies. I devote a lot of time in explaining about the clinical trial to the study subjects and resolving their queries to ensure they well understand all the procedures.  I also coordinate with the clinical research staff at our hospitals and ensure that all clinical trial data is being accurately collected in the Case Report Forms (CRFs) as per the applicable guidelines. A major skill required for my daily work is effective communication.

I also help to write down and maintain source documents such as the patient’s previous medical records, X-ray films and other lab results. Almost every day, I collect samples from the study subjects for the clinical trial, make a record of them and send them off to the laboratory for analysis. This includes both tissue samples and blood samples as per the requirement of the study that we are conducting.

I often get the opportunity to attend local and international conferences/meetings to find out about other trials taking place in the field of oncology, get to meet new people and keep growing as a professional.

What makes you most content with this job as a clinical research coordinator?

The fact that I am adding something to help strengthen our understanding of cancer and to bring out better drugs for this disease in the future is one of the biggest motivation for me. I also believe I am well qualified for the ‘coordinator’ position, not just because of my degree but also because I have good communication skills, I enjoy interacting with patients and working in a team with others to get the job done. When I initially began I had no actual knowledge of oncology but now I can read pathology reports and assist others recognize them which is fulfilling.

What do your buddies and family members think about your job as a clinical research coordinator?

Prior to working in clinical research I did not really understand what they were about and how they were conducted. All I knew was that patient’s are often offered to participate in clinical trials. Now I understand them to a very good extent and see them as an essential element of normal healthcare.

Initially my friends and family used to say, ‘We can’t do the job that you are doing’ when they saw me working long hours in the hospital but over time as they have understood the importance of my position and what I do on a daily basis they appreciate it. Now many of my friends are looking out for similar career opportunities. My job has good career prospects and pays me well too, so no one has anything to complain about.

Tell us about your work-life balance

I usually work from 9am to 5pm however it is not uncommon that we get calls earlier or later than this and there have been instances when the day has been really busy because of one or the other study deadline that we had to meet. It also gets busy in case there is a monitoring visit or an audit scheduled for the trial site. Overall the work life balance is fine as we get the weekends to relax.

How did you get here?

I studied my Bachelors in Microbiology from a reputed University of Singapore, and then went to the UK to complete my Masters in the same field. I then returned back to Singapore and got a job as a data coordinator with a leading contract research organization. This was a new learning experience as I had never worked in clinical trials before. I learnt a great deal in that profile however somehow I was not satisfied as I wanted to do more and wanted to step outside of a desk job. During my days as a data coordinator I had come across this position of a CRC and was interested in it. I learnt more about the profile and the more I learnt the more I wanted to become one. I enrolled in a formal online diploma program in clinical research to gain more knowledge about this field and to help build a better resume. Soon I started looking out for suitable opportunities and was glad to get hired in this hospital as a CRC. Ever since, it has been a satisfying experience.

What guidance would you give to someone who wants to work as a Clinical Research Coordinator?

I would advise people who want to become a CRC to think about this career path if you believe you would enjoy working in a hospital set-up. Being a CRC can be very challenging at times as you may be responsible for a lot of things at the same time, meeting deadlines, sending off reports to different stakeholders, managing patient visits, data collection and what not. I would also strongly recommend people without any / or with little clinical research experience to enroll in a training program as that makes you highly attractive to clinical research employers. A good understanding of the Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines is recommended and a training program in clinical research would usually include this anyway.

Have there been any unpleasant moments?

I would not say unpleasant, but it feels a little bad when you are not able to meet any deadline that was set for you. This I guess is for every job out there. Sometimes I feel having a medical degree would have been better as I do not usually know the name of a drug or a medical ailment when I take phone calls from nursing staff or the doctors. I am getting better at it with time. Overall I am very happy with my career as a Clinical Research Coordinator.

James Lind Institute offers multiple online training programs that can help you become a Clinical Research Coordinator. To know more about the training programs available please click here:

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