Where does a CRA begin

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Ollie in Toronto, Ontario

96 months ago

I have a 4 year Science degree and i am certified CRA. I have the academic bacground but have very little industry experience. How does a person like me find a job? where do i begin?

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CRC in Van in North Surrey, British Columbia

95 months ago

You will probably find it very difficult breaking into a CRA position without work experience. Your best bet is starting out at a lower position in a CRO and move up. You will learn so much more than you realize. I know it seems like you know it all from school, but it really is a different ball game when you have work experience. Hang in there!

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Vladimir in Port Mann, British Columbia

93 months ago

Hi!
I expect to get my CRA training funds and for this purpose conduct very short interview with real CRA. Could anybody help me out, please?

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Kate in Minneapolis, Minnesota

82 months ago

Exactly, How can you have the certification without experience. The big certification gurus are ACRP and SOCRA, and you can't be certified without at least 2 years full time experience. No exceptions. I wonder what certification you have?

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Kate in Minneapolis, Minnesota

82 months ago

Yes, I am sure it is a great program, but recruiters/companies are really not that interested if someone has attended this course, they look at experience, and for a formal certification through ACRP or SOCRA. Also - they want to know if you carry malpractice insurance to boot. I know plenty of people who go through programs of this nature and it does not really help them in the long run, albiet it may be a good program, but will ultimately not help you get that first job as a CRA. Maybe good training as something else, but as a CRA? Very difficult, almost impossible. One of my coordinators did a program of this nature and they stated they trained him as a CRA - the only job he could get was as a CRC. So - it is no gruarantee when you are out in the field.

Not trying to rain on anyone's parade here, but I've been doing this 9 years - and see all sorts of ads out there that promise job placement or help get you in the door - let me say that this is not the case unfortunately. Best bet? On the job training as a CRC or a CTA - go to meetings and make contacts. Sure, take this course at Michigan State to help you, but it is no guarantee. Keep this in-mind prior to spending loads of money on a program that may or may not help you in the long run.

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Kate in Minneapolis, Minnesota

82 months ago

My dear Alison:

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and yes, I completely disagree with you. It seems to me that you are not in the industry at all, rather a cheerleader for this program. Which is fine, but at least respect an opinion even though it is in direct contrast to your beliefs.

Yes - I am, in fact, a Sr. level CRA. I started out as a CRC, then became a Manager of Reseasrch, then started entry level as a CRA (was brought on by my monitor at the time). I then became a contractor. I have over 9 years experience in all aspects Phase II-IV as well as being a Lead on 2 projects. I've worked in almost every therapeutic area out there, and have my own company. So - I think from my experience that yes, I do have a very good indication of what it takes to make it in this business. I don't need to cheerlead for anyone- just give an honest accounting of what I believe will help people on this website.

That is my belief, and I am sticking to it. I would rather give people on this website a clear and accurate information so they can make their own choices with respect to this profession. If you feel the need to cheer away, be my guest. But it is obvious to me that you are sorely lacking in your industry expertise to not see this point of view as correct and true. I thought all CRAs were supposed to be well rounded? Or perhaps you have no contracting experience and only W2?

Regardless - I hope everyone who reads this can come to their own conclusions. Do not believe that training programs will get you there. Be smart in your choices, contact monitors out in the field - go to the ACRP website and see if they would be willing to help you. Try to shadow a monitor if possible. I did this for a colleague of mine before, and it helped her tremendously. If you do a training program, keep in mind that networking will get you farther. Going through recruiters? Well, that is a different story and a long one at that. Do I have stories :)
Happy hunting fellow CRAs

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Kate in Minneapolis, Minnesota

82 months ago

Alison-

As a matter of fact, I just checked out your so-called training course at Michigan State.

I see that you are, infact, a cheerleader for this program from the other emails you have posted on this website. Very interesting indeed...so it is you who is a recruiter of sorts it seems?

Very interesting to also learn that you are on staff there - as a graduate assistant, so of course you are going to cheerlead for your cause and your job. Thank you for being honest and forthcoming with this information to everyone who has subscribed to this listing.

So - you want people new to the industry to pay almost 2,000 dollars to take this course?

I can tell you NOW - EVERYONE.. This is entirely too much money. I don't care what they teach you, you can do a course like this for less, and get more hours behind you. A training program that gives you 33 hours and states that this is good preparation for the industry? I have serious reservations about this. It sounds like yet another program that promises the world and wants to take your money.

Let Michigan State be upset with me, because frankly I can't possibly allow this information to be out there to new and unsuspecting people who want to break into this industry and believe this is all it takes.

Again - be careful in your choices. Be careful of these types of 'advertisements' a well. There are tons of training programs out there. I took a course way back when I was a CRC - Over 150 hours, and half the price.

Absolutely riduclous...

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Kate in Minneapolis, Minnesota

82 months ago

Alison -
It is, and never was my intention, to damage any program that trains CRAs, rather to challange your approach. I have my own certifications that I carry - and as I said before, I am my own boss so I have no interest in either promoting or 'discrediting' any program. I don't need to, nor do I have the interest to.

I have an issue with promoting "Many of the students HAVE been hired as a direct result of taking this course" Well, what exactly are you saying here? What background do they have, where did they go? Were they hired as CRCs or CRAs? All sorts of questions come out of the woodwork here, and we have to be responsible for what we promote.

If you read the many posts here, there are all sorts of questions/comments of getting started. I think it unfair to promote a training program to potentials and NOT promote a more accurate description of what is in store for them, because then it just becomes another training program with promises of getting them the right job, and not being able to. Do you at least see and understand that point? Again, you have to be responsible for what you promote, because in the end, someone is going to take this program, and lets say that they don't get the job because of lack of expereince, personality, etc. How would you feel to learn that upon your recommendation, they were not able to break into the industry? It seems unfair to say the least, and this is why I think if you feel so strongly about this program, then promote it in the right way, not posting several advertisements about this program. For example, did you take the program yourself? Has anyone who is completely naive to research completed the program and was placed after completion? See? As experienced CRAs, we are listened to and have to be responsible of that fact.

We could go back and forth forever about your view, and my view, and never agree. Lets just say that we agree to disagree, and let the potential candidates decide for themselves.

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Kate in Minneapolis, Minnesota

82 months ago

All I can possibly say is... to each is own.

Good for your neice, you must be proud. It sounds like she is a study coordinator, not a monitor. My case is closed.

Hope it is the same for everyone else who decides to take the course upon your recommendedation. Sounds like good prep for a coordinator, not too sure about a monitor though. I sincerely hope it works out for all those parties involved as some just don't know any better as they are brand new to the industry.

Do your research before you decide on any program, now this I agree with. At least this is something.

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Kate in Minneapolis, Minnesota

82 months ago

Yet we go round and round....

Look, lets leave it as it is. You have your opinion and I have mine. There is no resolution, period. We could go on forever, and to what end?

Lets be professional and just accept that we will never agree, that we have different experiences that have shaped our opinions, and leave it at that?

The points have been presented, and the subscribers can judge for themselves. Advice on BOTH sides has been given, so lets just leave it as such.

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Kate in Minneapolis, Minnesota

82 months ago

No, I do not agree. Refer to your first post. How can you possibly use your influence as a CRA to promote a program that you have never taken, never associated yourself formally with, and say to the public domain on this website the following:

It is extensive and well worth taking to build your qualification and resume. Since it is a recognized University it is reimbursable through many state unemployment reimbursement programs. The course is first rate and trains a CRA in all aspects to ready them for interview and day 1 on the job.

Who are you to post someting of this nature with having no affiliation with them, besides a family member who took the program? Yes, I question your reasoning. Yes, I question why you would say such things when you have no direct experience with them. Why, with what basis, would you refer to this as being an expert? Read above your words...you are making ASSUMPTIONS that you know, when indeed you do NOT know. What is this representing to people who are not in the industry? And you are hiding behind the fact that people have to make their own decisions and that it is their responsibility, yet look at how you are promiting the program with no criteria to do so.

Alison - we can go at this all day, night, etc. The fact remains that if you continue to post in this manner, I will continue to post back, to what end. And if you recall, you initally referred to me as "Making assumptions about a subject before you have all the info is not a very good quality for a CRA". How can you possibly know something like this without knowing me at all?

Believe me, we can go on forever. Set the pace dear, I am all for it.

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Kate in Minneapolis, Minnesota

82 months ago

Truly sorry you feel you are being attacked. I think the posts speak for themselves - and I directly took your wording from the post you wrote.

If you choose to take it in this manner, this is fine by me.

We just agree to disagree. Plain and simple.

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Karen in Tempe, Arizona

82 months ago

Hi Kate,
I thank you for your posts! The best thing I got out of this (argument) was to do a little research. ACRP or SOCRA seem the better choices in my opinion and there seem to be scams for certification out there that will not help in finding a job. Thank you for answering my questions in a round about way!!! (I also believe if one answer were correct, there would be agreement with you two as you both seem intellegent and skilled)

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Kate in Minneapolis, Minnesota

82 months ago

Good Karen, this is what it is all about in the long run.

I hate to see people pour money into training and not get what they expect at the end. It is very hard for newbies - and I really feel for people who have been stuck there. I get asked all the time and hear stories of CRC's taking training sessions and never getting that first CRA job, or having companies not even look at someone who has a good degree and took some sort of training program....and it really saddens me. And lets face it, there are scams out there to be wary of. Not all of them, but they do exist. There are lots of training sessions and I don't want to say one is better than the other, but you are on the right track in terms of doing your research.

I am happy that it helped someone out there :) If it did, when it was worth the exhaustive effort.

Good luck and happy hunting!

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DWF in Michigan

82 months ago

I'd like to make a distinction between becoming certified and enrolling in some sort of formal clinical research training course.

To become certified through an organization, eg, ACRP (Association of Clinical Research Professionals) or SoCRA (Society of Clinical Research Associates) you must have clinical research experience. The experience can be either in a clinic setting as a Clinical Research Coordinator or some other clinic role, or working in the pharmaceutical industry. It can be any role in clinical research as long as someone in HR or a manager will attest to your years of experience in writing. You must have this documentation to sit for their exams. I'm not sure how many years they require. You'll have to check their websites. You can also sit for the exam with a combination of education and fewer years of experience, but to become certified through these organizations, you must have clinical research experience. The formal training in clinical research is offered through many universities as graduate certificates and masters programs in Clinical Research Administration which may be what the MSU program is. The certificates generally take about a year to complete. Many of these courses are now offered online. I took the course at Eastern Michigan Univ, but at no time did they suggest that the course would guarantee that you would land a CRA position. It did serve as a good networking venue. To obtain the graduate certificate, a preceptorship must be completed in a clinic setting. These generally take about 6 weeks. That has proven to be an excellent opportunity for networking. I know of several people in my class that have obtained positions in clinical research, however, most of the positions are as Clinical Research Coordinators. The courses I mentioned are very expensive.

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mimie in San Mateo, California

68 months ago

hello, i am working as a CRA in montreal, canada for 5 years now and was considering moving to New York city- how much money do you think a CRA should be making in this city?

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vanag in San Diego, California

68 months ago

I completed the clinical trials administration specialised
certification program through UCSD.cost 2000 dollars.
Wont get your foot in any CRO even as a coordinator.
Its completly a lie that a person completing this course
can get a break in Clinical Trials area.I was mislead
completly.I feel cheated now and also lost my money.
Left with a certificate which is not of much use.

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vanag in San Diego, California

68 months ago

Dont waste hard earned money.I have a 4 yrs degree in Biology
and other diplomas in Biotech.Have more than 12 yrs corporate
experience.Wanted to change my career.And I was completly mislead.
The program is not at all great.Not even about the job.
It just gives an overview of Clinical trials admin.
UCSD Extension Clinical trials program is not worth the money
unless you are already a CRA and the company is paying you.
Dont beleive these University recruiters.Atleast not these
kind of programs where they promise heaven and you are actually
6 feet under.

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asdf in New York, New York

68 months ago

I am doing an internship right now with the school where i got CRA training. I figure even a university would have some institutional studies.

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spencer84 in Johnson City, Tennessee

68 months ago

Ok, it's generally agreed upon in this form that you can't be train in this. However, no one is answering the real question how do you break into the field?!?! I have psychology/biology degree, I'm thinking about going and getting an associates in Medical Lab. Technician. This would give me experience working in a hospital lab but I don't know if that would help break into CRA since it's for clinical studies. I did help with a clinical study during my undergrad. I really want to be a CRA, I have the degree just no idea how to get the experience. Can anyone give me some suggestions?

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MRob in Chesterfield, United Kingdom

68 months ago

Hi Spencer, my suggestion reflects Kate's in the string of emails above - experience is the way forward. It is wise of you to apply for a Lab Technician role but it would be more beneficial for you to try to break into Clinical Research via a CRO/Pharmaceutical, do you have any companies nearby where you could apply for a Data Entry Assistant / CTA role? I moved into the CRA role via Data Entry. I'm not sure what the situation is in the US but there is also the ability to become a Research Assistant in Hospitals, where you would assist in clinical trials being performed. This is all relevant experience which is greatly appreciated by employers in Clinical Research.
I also volunteered at my local Hospital prior to becoming CRA, this is something you may like to look into.

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KC Temple in Towson, Maryland

68 months ago

I think this forum is a bit lopsided. We're only getting one side of Kate's arguement. What happened to "Dear Alison"'s replies? I took a training course at MSU and it was great. I had a BSN and a few month's of experience. I got a better job as a result. I found it myself, but I know I interviewed better and more confidently. So, training courses may not help everyone, but the one I took definitely helped me. ...And, you always have to remember there's more to getting a job than just your credentials.

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darshan in New York, New York

68 months ago

the trend is that if you're a rn or a bsn the pharmaceuticals prefer you over a candidate like me who had bs in life sciences.

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Scott in Houston, Texas

66 months ago

This advice should be taken by anyone who wants to break into the CRA field,
First lets clarify that an average CRA travels more than 70% of the time. (Excluding On-Site Positions)
The job consists of being knowledgeable in GCP,
Putting the regulations into practice while monitoring studies through experience that should the person should already withhold.

If you do not have this "seed experience" to begin with,
That is where you need to start,

From experience i can tell you that monitors with prior clinical research experience and at least a 4year Science degree are a must.
And also note to be careful what you wish for because monitor life is hard on yourself friends and family.

I highly do not recommend this job if you have a family with children it is just too time consuming......the sad truth is that you will not be a monitor for the rest of your life, i can tell you this right now.

Now for the finale and to answer the question
You need to start of as a QA Specialist, CRC, or other underlying position,work there for awhile (2yr-5yr), Then get certified (ACRP, SOCRA)....After all this you will be marketable for an entry level CRA position in a CRO that wont be too great, anyways work there for (2yr-5yr) then quit, and move on to the highest paying bidder, finally you will get paid :)

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KC Temple in Towson, Maryland

66 months ago

Scott in Houston, Texas said: This advice should be taken by anyone who wants to break into the CRA field,
First lets clarify that an average CRA travels more than 70% of the time. (Excluding On-Site Positions)
The job consists of being knowledgeable in GCP,
Putting the regulations into practice while monitoring studies through experience that should the person should already withhold.

If you do not have this "seed experience" to begin with,
That is where you need to start,

From experience i can tell you that monitors with prior clinical research experience and at least a 4year Science degree are a must.
And also note to be careful what you wish for because monitor life is hard on yourself friends and family.

I highly do not recommend this job if you have a family with children it is just too time consuming......the sad truth is that you will not be a monitor for the rest of your life, i can tell you this right now.

Now for the finale and to answer the question
You need to start of as a QA Specialist, CRC, or other underlying position,work there for awhile (2yr-5yr), Then get certified (ACRP, SOCRA)....After all this you will be marketable for an entry level CRA position in a CRO that wont be too great, anyways work there for (2yr-5yr) then quit, and move on to the highest paying bidder, finally you will get paid :)

Scott:
You do give good advice - especially about the travelling with kids! but it isn't the only road to becoming a CRA. I was a BSN with a few months experience and I've been a CRA for two years now. I'm single with no children and I love the travel, meeting the site staff, making new contacts and making the world a better place, one visit at a time. (yes, I know it's corny, but I really believe in what I'm doing!) I took the cra training course at MSU and it made a big difference for me. Here's the link if anyone's interested: nursing.msu.edu/cracrc.aspx

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Chris in Paramus, New Jersey

66 months ago

you do not learn how to be a CRA in a school.. you could, but it's a waste of money and time. get a temp position as a admin assistant or even a CR assistant and make connections, file/review CRFs, learn about protocol development process, learn how to write the cute emails, take minutes to see how the work impacts the other departments, read trip reports, see how the regulatory reports get written and what/how CRA contributes to them.. do data listing reviews which ALL CRAs would love your help with, you only learn by working and it is fairly easy to get your foot in the door. don't waste your time in school.. being in clinical operations is not an intellectual exercise, it is a discipline that is learned by doing it over and over again. i believe you can only learn by working.

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Chris in Paramus, New Jersey

66 months ago

4 year science degree is not required to be a good CRA..it's helpful, but it's not a MUST. a CRA just has to be able to understand what causes the disease and how your drug's mechanism will impede or cure it - to be more specific, just be familiar with what the endpoints (or goal parameters) of that particular clinical trial is and what the important measurements are... you really do not need to know anymore.. what you do need to know is how the sites' compliance and their actions will impact the work downstream, as in when you will be collecting and "cleaning" the data as well as in case your company gets audited.. there is a tendency of people to glorify this position as some healthcare professional and needing RNs and all that, but really, it is just an operations-based job and how you get better is by learning how things work.. what applications have to be approved by what agencies in order to release drug, etc.. you are not a decisionmaker really. you get handed the decisions and you just execute it based on industry norms that you've gotten to know over the years.

best advice: find a temp agency, and get into clinical operations as admin assistant. you will report to either Sr. CRA or the CPM and be asked to go to meetings.. work there for a year, and learn what these documents look like and go to those ICH trainings and etc that tell you how to properly cross off mistakes, what should be in a protocol synopsis, and get used to seeing data outputs, etc. clin ops has high TO rates.. you will get a chance to be hired permanently as these people leave companies to advance quicker.

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Chris in Paramus, New Jersey

66 months ago

NEVER get CCRA, ACRP, DIA or any of that kind of stuff with your own money.. always on the company's books as they will make room for one "enrichment" course per year if you are a permanent employee (even as a CR assitant). most of that stuff is not needed to excel in your job anyways, especially as a CRA I or even CRA II. Also, during the interviews, we don't pay attention to CCRA and things like that too much - we only are interested in your WORK EXPERIENCE and what you have done before (have you done site initiation visits, monitoring visits, closeout visits, listing reviews, minutes, MS Project timelines, eCRFs, submission standards) most of which you can only learn by working. we NEVER care about where you got your CCRA as we all know it's irrelevant. you learn intangible things like "how to better your relationship with the sites" or "how to make your site more compliant" which you can learn from your bosses or just common sense. please remember, it is not a skill, it is a discipline and people-dealing.

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joe in Hopkins, Minnesota

65 months ago

i have been looking for a job as a registered nurse in minnesota for a bout 2 months now and i cant find a JOB, i am wondering if its is a good idea to go back to school for clinical research associate?

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lanfear in Sicklerville, New Jersey

65 months ago

spencer84 in Johnson City, Tennessee said: Ok, it's generally agreed upon in this form that you can't be train in this. However, no one is answering the real question how do you break into the field?!?! I have psychology/biology degree, I'm thinking about going and getting an associates in Medical Lab. Technician. This would give me experience working in a hospital lab but I don't know if that would help break into CRA since it's for clinical studies. I did help with a clinical study during my undergrad. I really want to be a CRA, I have the degree just no idea how to get the experience. Can anyone give me some suggestions?

Here is how I got in the field. I had a degree in Biology many years before. I went back to an accredited university and took its Certificate in Clinical Trials course. At that time, I thought it was one of the best courses because it was 3 semesters long and included an internship. It was kinda pricey but well worth it. While doing my internship at a major pharmaceutical company (my professor had connections and got me in) I searched for a position. I found an assistant position with a CRO, worked like crazy and got myself promoted. I don't know of any way that I might have become a CRA straight away. Even though I learned all the regs and forms in school, nothing beat the practical experience I gained as an assistant. It is really tough right now to obtain that position, but keep trying. The economy is bound to get better! Oh and if you can, get into Oncology. You will be worth your weight in gold if you get that experience. I have been trying to break into it, but haven't had luck yet.

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lanfear in Sicklerville, New Jersey

65 months ago

joe in Hopkins, Minnesota said: i have been looking for a job as a registered nurse in minnesota for a bout 2 months now and i cant find a JOB, i am wondering if its is a good idea to go back to school for clinical research associate?

Have you tried the federal goverment? I know they are looking for several nurses in Minnesota. I don't know where Hopkins is located in regards to Minneapolis, but if it near,maybe it might be a good fit.

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Debbie in Asheville, North Carolina

65 months ago

joe in Hopkins, Minnesota said: i have been looking for a job as a registered nurse in minnesota for a bout 2 months now and i cant find a JOB, i am wondering if its is a good idea to go back to school for clinical research associate?

Joe..it's a scary day when an RN can't get a job! What's up with that? Unfortunately right now the CRA field is pretty rough too...at least east coast because it's pretty saturated out here, and if you have no prior experience. Some CRO's have even laid off CRAs so you would be up against experienced ones as well.
I think your best bet is to continue the RN route. I was an ER nurse for 12 years and did traveling...loved it! I have been a CRA for 4 years and love it too, but I think right now, nursing is the safest bet.

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T.Holmes in Austin, Texas

64 months ago

I am dying to get into a CRA position (and am kid-less Chris :). However, I am finding it anything but easy, as I have no first-hand experience and only a strong desire at this point. If anyone out there needs a hardworking, smart, detail oriented, and self-motivated young lady... please email me at 2tholmes@gmail.com

Thanks!

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Vincent in Trenton, New Jersey

59 months ago

Hello All,

I am interested in becoming a CRA. I have no monitoring experience, but a BS in Biomedical Engineering. I have been in the pharmaceutical industry (sales) for the past 2 years since graduating. I am planning on taking the CKA (Core Knowledge Assesment) given by the ACRP and also attending the national conference in Tampa.

The CKA is the only legitamate certification I can find (and sit for) without having 2 years monitoring experience.

I am just writing to look for any suggestion or tips to help break in. I have been in close contact with the CRCs in the various physicians offices I visit.

Do you think I can somehow focus in on my background and draw on parallels between a pharm sales rep and CRA (already operating independently w/o office, direct contact/communications physicians/ healthcare professionals etc...) or should I not go that route.

Thanks in Advance.

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vanaja in San Diego, California

48 months ago

vanag in San Diego, California said: I completed the clinical trials administration specialised
certification program through UCSD.cost 2000 dollars.
Wont get your foot in any CRO even as a coordinator.
Its completly a lie that a person completing this course
can get a break in Clinical Trials area.I was mislead
completly.I feel cheated now and also lost my money.
Left with a certificate which is not of much use.

I totally agree with you.Its been 2 years and no job yet in sight for me.What UCSD extension does is total cheating.

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Irene WK in New Providence, New Jersey

48 months ago

Ollie in Toronto, Ontario said: I have a 4 year Science degree and i am certified CRA. I have the academic bacground but have very little industry experience. How does a person like me find a job? where do i begin?

Try and look for a job as a CTA - in house CRA - Clinical Trials Assistant. Good place to start.

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karakus in Lakeland, Florida

20 months ago

Does anyone know any recruiters for CRA positions in the SouthEast US? Would appreciate it if you would pass those along if you do.

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Mather in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

20 months ago

There are thousands of recruiters out there; however, the chance of someone supplying names is rather slim.

Think about it:
-Would you want your name and phone number posted on a message board for anyone to call? A recruiter would not want that either.
-if you knew a recruiter and was looking for a job, why would you give their name out to others, creating more competition for yourself, thus lessening the chance of getting the job?

I would suggest you go on Linked In. Recruiters on Linked In will search pages everyday looking for the right candidate to reach out to.

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RJ in Sunnyvale, California

17 months ago

CRC in Van in North Surrey, British Columbia said: You will probably find it very difficult breaking into a CRA position without work experience. Your best bet is starting out at a lower position in a CRO and move up. You will learn so much more than you realize. I know it seems like you know it all from school, but it really is a different ball game when you have work experience. Hang in there!

That is absolutely true. In spite of training it is indeed difficult to get in the CRA position without experience. I started off as a Clinical Research Assistant(WOC- without compensation) position at Stanford and Department Of VA. It was only after 7 months of experience that I receive phone calls for interviews. Prior to that ,there was no strong experience to put on the resume.

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