top of page
  • team1531

The Clinical Research Profession: Mapping Dynamic Career Pathways

With Jessica Fritter


Christine Senn: 

I am so excited to introduce Jessica Fritter. For those of you who haven't met her, she has been part of ACRP for a long time, an organization near and dear to my heart. In fact, she's the chapter president of the Ohio chapter. We really thank her for her leadership there. If you're not part of a chapter, consider joining, as they offer additional educational courses and other resources to help you maintain your certification or simply learn more in your field. The ACRP chapters are a great way to get involved.  

 

Jessica is with The Ohio State University and is going to talk to us today about an article she co-wrote on career paths in clinical research, which I found to be very helpful. I hope you do as well. Enjoy.  

Jessica, thank you so much for joining me today. As soon as I read your ACRP article mapping the pathway of the clinical research career, I contacted you the same day it was published. I was so excited to read it since that's what this workforce series has been focusing on in this blog. One of the highlights was the great subway map that you included, and I would just love for you to talk about the clinical research career map and cover some of the highlights of your article. 

 

Jessica Fritter: 

I would love to. We came up with this map because, when I started my career, I saw a lot of research on education and the lack of training programs available. I began to realize that we weren't doing a good job of informing people about the types of positions and jobs they could pursue. We needed to do better. I've mentored many people and had numerous employees come to me asking, 'Jess, where do I go? What do I do? I'm a CRC, and I really like this, but I don't want to go to med school or PA school. So, where do I go?' It really got me thinking, and as I became more involved in education and teaching, I worked with my colleague, Dr. Carolyn Jones. We decided we needed something visual for people to see and to understand that they can start on one route of the map, on one line, and move to another. 

You don't have to stick within one segment of it. We created this so all clinical research professionals, or even those who don't know about the field but are interested, can see where to start, how to get their foot in the door, and what it all looks like. There's so much to it, including the clinical aspect, patient recruitment, becoming a PI, being a research nurse, and many other very important positions. There are also positions that are more regulatory-based, more project management-based. There are many positions within the industry and pharmaceuticals, discussing how that translates to maybe even working on the business side, doing feasibility and budgets, or grants and contracts. 

 

We just wanted to show everything possible. And we still missed, of course, probably other positions that should be discussed, but that's the beauty of this field; it's just how large and vast it is. With that, we also wanted to talk more about how to enter the field, how to market yourself, and how to be successful in this career. A big part of that is understanding yourself and your strengths because if you understand your strengths, you're better able to align with a position and a job that will be fantastic for you. Then you can climb the career ladder or stay within the area you want to. We don't always have to move up. That is something that I think was instilled in many of us growing up. It's okay to really enjoy your work in one area and stay there. 

 

Christine Senn: 

Those are great points. I had to follow every line on the subway map. It was fun to see some of the things you learn because of the location you've been in. I was at an academic medical center when I started, and because I don't have a nursing degree, I was the type of coordinator who only did IRB submissions. I had this long regulatory path that really served me well in understanding other aspects before I ever even got to see a patient. I felt so informed in both directions. If you see patients and then work in contracts and budget, what a difference it makes for your negotiating. There's so much interplay between these roles as well. It is fun to learn about all of them, and it makes for a really good site director. But you're right, you don't have to continue along straight path. You can change between roles or stay exactly where you are because it's so fulfilling and there's so much to do. When you are looking at career paths and talking to people, do you see that there are hot topics right now that people want to go into? Or are there things they're not seeing that they should consider as a job option? 

 

Jessica Fritter: 

Absolutely. I think I'll start with the latter part of your question. One of the areas I see a lot of people not even thinking about or considering is the business side, such as working in administration positions or looking at site operations, but really focusing on budgets, contracts, or being a feasibility coordinator. These are roles that aren't those 'hot buttons' people think about when they consider clinical trials. They think about getting into the nitty-gritty, talking to patients, working closely with PIs, which you do in grants and contracts. But I believe this is such an untapped area with so much opportunity and a critical need. Maybe that's just my own business budget analytical brain talking. But I do think it's an area we don't see enough conversation about. Strategically, we should think about how to market this career to business majors and let them know there's even more they could go into. The hot jobs I see are always the CRA positions. Everyone wants to know, 'How do I become a CRA? What do I need to do to make that jump?' because I think they see how much more they can learn in those roles, and they're so valuable. Especially once you have some site perspective, moving into those areas is beneficial. You're able to contribute ideas when it comes to negotiating, study design, and putting monitoring plans together. You really have a different perspective. And I would say that is the most intriguing area that I see a lot of people wanting to move into. On the other side, I see many people wanting to move up, aiming for leadership positions, wanting to grow their own portfolio to continue to rise within the field. 

 

Christine Senn: 

You were talking about facilitators to career entry. You have a lot of really good ideas. One that I would love to discuss is internships, because that has come up before. You mentioned in the article that internships are valuable. Where do people find these? 

 

Jessica Fritter: 

I personally see a lot of internships because we have many people coming to us at Ohio State, especially with the master's program. We get a lot of internships coming our way to distribute to our students, so they can apply to them. Through that, I've made many connections. I think an important step for people is to create a LinkedIn profile if they don't have one already, and then follow the companies they're interested in. Whether that's Merck, PPD, or any of these larger companies, or even an academic center. Find their research institute page, follow them, so you're informed about internship opportunities, job openings, and can apply quickly. 

 

Christine Senn: 

Those are important. And that's a great takeaway from this chat, too—having a good LinkedIn profile matters. It speaks to your professionalism, even if you haven't had a job before. You could be contributing to the field in some way by reading articles and engaging. And creating a good resume, that was another point. What, in your mind, makes for a good resume? Whether it's a skillset or just something you don't want or something you do want? 

 

Jessica Fritter: 

Yes, having been a leader for many years and involved in hiring, I must say the resumes that stood out the most to me were not the trendy ones, not the ones in the new template with a picture on them. They were the ones that clearly outlined education, certifications, and skillsets. Even if you've never worked in clinical research, make sure to include your jobs and how they might translate. What are some of those transferable skills that you have that really stand out? Please take your time. Often, we rush or throw everything onto the page, which isn't necessary. Initially, list everything, then start refining it. It's also beneficial to have a mentor or someone who can review your resume and provide feedback. It's crucial to keep a running list of all the studies you've worked on if you're in clinical research, adding that as an addendum to show your proficiency. It's difficult to stick to a one-page resume in this field. My resume, or CV now, is quite lengthy, but it's important to showcase your experience. Even if you're submitting a six-page resume, it's better to let someone review it and see your publications, studies you've worked on, etc. That right there will catch someone's eye in this field, and they'll take a closer look, recognizing that you know your stuff. So don't shy away from detailing your experience at all. 

 

Christine Senn: 

Those are really good. There are companies though that make you go down to one page and it is a little hard if you've been in the industry for some time.  

 

Jessica Fritter: 

Exactly. ‘Available upon request’ is the best little phrase to put in there. 

 

Christine Senn: 

I loved your article and thank you for writing it. I saw you on a panel at ACRP at the 2023 annual conference and I thought you were just wonderful. Thank you for joining me today, I so appreciate it, Jessica.  

 

Jessica Fritter: 

Thank you. I appreciate you inviting me. 




 

4 views0 comments

Comentários


bottom of page