top of page

The Clinical Research Profession: Hiring and Getting Hired in Clinical Research

with Rebecca Jackson

Christine Senn:

In this episode, we talk about clinical research professionalism and workforce development. We are interviewing Rebecca Jackson, an HR Generalist at Centricity Research, which is a large site network. We’ll talk a little bit about how you might be able to get involved in clinical research at the site level and what you could be looking for, either as the person hiring or being hired. I hope you learn a lot.

Rebecca, you and I worked together when I was still at Centricity Research, and we worked on many improvement domains from policies and procedures to employee engagement. What I'm hearing people are very interested in, which you can speak to, is how to get hired in clinical research with no experience. And secondly, how to find people to hire for clinical research. We're coming at it from both sides. You work at a clinical research site, so let's focus on that rather than the whole industry. So first, for sites, what do you think a site should be looking for when hiring a clinical research coordinator?

Rebecca Jackson:

Those are really great questions. I think, first and foremost, you always want to look for the correct culture fit. You want to make sure that person is going to align with the type of core values that you foresee within your employees. Second would be their analytical skills as well as interpersonal skills. These are people that are front facing, they're with the patients. They're going to need to have some patience and be able to explain educational things in a way that a layman, or person that maybe doesn't have medical terminology, would be able to understand.

Christine:

Okay, excellent-- people skills, analytical skills and culture fit would be top qualities?

Rebecca:

Yes.

Christine:

I completely agree with you. The second question is going to be a little bit long. It’s based on what an applicant can do if they want to enter clinical research and they don't have experience. I'm going to read you a question that one of our viewers asked us. I will say one of the primary issues that made me want to create this series was that we have a workforce shortage in clinical research, and yet people who want to be in the field are struggling to be hired, which is very curious.

Here's what someone wrote in: “I'm very interested in breaking into the field as either a CRC or CRA. I was a science teacher and I'm trying to transition into clinical research, with my lab experiences from my undergraduate internships and work as a toxicology analyst. I took CITI and ACRP courses to help me gain knowledge of the roles I'm interested in, but I'm concerned it's not enough to get hired. How do I find opportunities to gain this experience? Is there a particular location where internship opportunities are available? Some jobs do require experience, but some do not require experience beyond what I have. What would make me stand out?”

I know that was a lot. Because you're at a site let’s focus on the CRC. What can this person do to get hired?

Rebecca:

This person is on the right track. They're doing everything that they could be doing- trying to gather that education or that experience based off the current credentials that they have or the work history and the type of certifications they were looking for and the training that they've conducted. They're online to be a CRC. They could totally be hired. Our CEO was telling us that anybody can be taught [a skill], but it really depends on their empathy and how they treat individuals. That's really what we're looking for, but they're totally on track. If they wanted to get some further foundational experience inside a clinic, they could apply for an RA (Research Assistant) role first to work alongside the CRCs. That would allow them to gather information on whether they really would be interested in clinical research. Other things that I would suggest is calling around to your local clinical research institutes and see if are they looking for someone to train. At our site specifically, we love people calling in and trying to get more information about the industry and helping them break into the industry themselves. It's a great start: just picking up the phone. I know that's a little old school, but call and inquire about the opportunities that they have for you locally.

Christine:

That is a great point because it's hard to even know where there's a clinical research site nearby because it's just not publicized that much. You might see some advertisements, but I think that you could probably type in “clinical research” and then the town they're in or the next closest town. Clinicaltrials.gov can give you a list too. As other people in the industry have said, sites are really looking for people.

Rebecca:

Yes.

Christine:

It can be hard to recruit, especially if you're in a town that doesn't have clinical research, and then you're mostly getting people who don't have experience. I think you're probably very used to someone not having any experience.

Rebecca:

Yes, it is one of those things that you find in our town and in Columbus, Georgia. There aren't very many other clinical research institutes or [people who] have that background. They're in those larger towns or maybe those closer to a college or university conducting research, if they're not doing it independently. Within the community, it's really the more connections that you make, the networking opportunities. Even if they were to go to a conference or a community outreach event that's possibly being hosted by a clinical research company, or even a healthcare fair. Occasionally, we're at locations such as those as well. That would be a really great way to get to know someone or put a face to a name and say, this is what I'm looking for- do you know anyone that could point me in the right direction? You could get the ball rolling that way too.

Christine:

Those are fantastic ideas. Thank you. Okay, we're going to do our last question and I'm going to ask everyone this question. I love clinical research. I think those of us who have stuck with it for a while love it. What's exciting or amazing about working in clinical research?

Rebecca:

I love this question because I was, I don't want to say ignorant, but unbeknownst to me, clinical research was in my own community, in my own backyard. When I had my own interview for this role, and when I was first starting out in the industry, I remember hearing about the community outreach, hearing about the initiatives that are taking place. To know that during that time, which was at the height of Covid, these studies were going on to really help individuals and give someone hope out there-- because it, it was just awful, quite frankly, it turned everyone's worlds upside down. To know that that was happening in my own backyard-- I told them even if I don't get hired, I want to go on a rooftop and go yell out about clinical research.

This is available in the community, we are compensating our patient volunteers, providing them healthcare. This helps not only worldwide because it helps those studies get out there, but also those within the community and those that I see every day locally, I know that they're being affected in a positive way. That's very fulfilling for me because it does make it feel like I'm changing the world in a small way myself. It is a very fulfilling industry to be a part of. It's very exciting, especially if you hear a medication or maybe a device that's out there that you recognize from a trial that was being conducted previously—you think, I know that, because it was conducted at my site! It's an exciting thing to be a part of. It's constantly changing and modern in that way, to where something new happens every single day. There's something new that I can learn every day. There's really no limit to what can be done with modern medicine.

Christine:

That was awesome. Your passion and your excitement must come across when you interview people. I'm sure now people will be clamoring to be interviewed by you! We should probably say that Centricity has a lot of locations across the US and Canada, so it's not even just Columbus, Georgia. That was fantastic, thank you so much, Rebecca. I appreciate it.

Rebecca:

You're welcome. Thank you so much for having me.


3 views0 comments

Comentarios


bottom of page