If you are passionate about science and medicine, want to make worthwhile changes to the world, and also view yourself as a people person, a career in clinical research might be right for you.
Stephen Smith, the director of corporate services at a radiopharmacy and clinical laboratory in London, explains what exactly it is that clinical researchers do and the skills needed to carry out their day-to-day job.
What Is Clinical Research?
Before any medicine or device for healthcare can be sold as a treatment, it must pass through a series of very strict tests, which can take up to 12 years. Clinical research is the process of developing these new treatments and acquiring the knowledge needed to provide better healthcare, as well as ensuring any medicine put out is both safe and effective.
What Do Clinical Researchers Do?
A clinical researcher’s key role is to conduct and collect data from clinical trials, which are used to determine whether a medicine, diagnostic device or dietary supplement is fit for purpose and safe for market. These trials help to answer questions regarding the effects of the medicine and its behaviour during testing. Both new and existing treatments, which might need to be studied further, can be tested in this way on willing volunteers.
One of the key responsibilities of a clinical researcher is to ensure that clinical trials are carried out in an ethical way, following specific guidelines and best practices. As such, they must guarantee that everyone working on the team complies with these regulations and behaves in a safe and professional manner.
Document handling and data security play a big part in this career role too, which is why clinical researchers must understand the importance of participant confidentiality and the sensitivity of personal data. This is important in any occupation, but in the medical field where you will be handling personal health information, perhaps even more so.
Generally, clinical researchers will be tasked with recruiting and screening candidates for trials, as well as taking care of the patients’ health, progress and safety during the trial, and then submitting their data and findings to the organisation that is sponsoring the research.
Sounds Interesting! Where Do I Sign Up?
Becoming a clinical researcher is no easy feat. In fact, here in the UK you must possess a degree in Medicine or Science, though some positions do require a Master’s or Ph.D., as well as certain specialist experience. You can see how high-level and skilled this career is, but it is also an extremely meaningful one.
Places of employment can include hospitals, pharmaceutical laboratories, research units in universities and even governmental departments.
What Key Skills Are Needed?
Critical thinking, the ability to solve complex problems and make important decisions are paramount. Moreover, clinical researchers need to have exceptional written, numerical and verbal communication skills, as well as the capacity to analyse data – so good attention to detail should also be a strong point.
Being a team player and possessing fantastic managerial and interpersonal skills are also important. Above all, a passion for all things science and research is vital.
If you want to help make a difference to people’s lives, or improve the quality of life for those with specific health problems, a career in clinical research might be one of the most rewarding paths to take. Not only is the job interesting and varied, but it is also extremely significant for the advancement of healthcare all across the world!