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Stand out in the crowd: How do you separate yourself as a CRA?

With an estimated 100,000 CRA jobs in the US, the CRA job market is undoubtedly competitive. We asked our CRAs what skills or practices they employ that allow them to stand out as exemplary in this profession.

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Image courtesy of sarawakfocus.com

Bryan Petrisko is a Senior CRA and our Quality Manager. He makes it a priority to establish good relationships with his sites and to demonstrate to the coordinators that he is on the same team as they are. He accomplishes this in part, by expressing logical opinions and actions based upon his experience and knowledge of applicable regulations and best practices. Then he uses that experience and good interpersonal skills to build trust with the site staff.

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“I’ve seen research coordinators who are apprehensive during my first visit as a result of previous negative experiences with CRAs or monitors. My goal is to quickly change their experience, so that I never have a coordinator dread my arrival.”

Dan Beck, Senior CRA, provides a detailed example of a noteworthy approach to working with site staff that demonstrates exemplary professionalism and “stand-out” CRA practices:

“Try to provide information to site study staff that ‘simplifies their day’.  Because we all operate under the pressures of managing that most valuable of commodities—time, any contribution we can make to help our site colleagues save time will in turn make us stand out in their eyes, even for what might seem to be fairly straightforward issues.”

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Say you are orienting new site staff that is relatively new to clinical research regarding the requirement for calibration of study-related equipment.  As a CRA, you can provide the rationale for calibration during discussion with the staff; however, what if the clinic does not have an internal biomedical service or other means to address this requirement?  If you can provide a reference to a local area medical equipment service provider, replete with contact information, that simple action allows a site staff member to address the problem directly, without him or her having to research the issue from scratch.  The payoff for the site is timesaving.  The payoff for the sponsor is fewer delays of study initiation and startup of enrollment at the siteThe payoff for the CRA is to stand out as someone the site staff can rely on as a resource for aspects of study management that are beyond protocol-specific requirements.  The alternative CRA attitude of “not in my job description” is a missed opportunity to stand out.

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Study management is a very broad team affair. CRAs who go the extra mile to make workflow at their study sites go smoothly are the ones who stand out in the crowd and are able to build relationships with site staff members.  After all, the site staff ultimately functions at the patient level to provide the services that both CROs and study sponsors need for an accurate, complete, and compliant clinical study.

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