As the number of clinical trials increases so does the demand for skilled and multifaceted clinical research associates (CRAs).

Tetiana Leheida

Regional Clinical Trial Manager

In 2019, the number of clinical trials reached a staggering 56,848. According to the WHO, that is 20 times greater than the number just a decade before. Who are the professionals running these trials? There are many people involved in making sure that clinical trials are conducted properly, including a research team, doctors, nurses, clinical research associates (CRAs) and many more. Each professional has their own role to play, but together, they work on ensuring that a treatment or medical device is tested and safe for patient use.

CRAs are the primary contact between the investigational site and the sponsors, making sure that clinical trial protocols are followed. This involves making on-site visits, overseeing clinical site activities and keeping a document of any observations. It is a competitive field, however, ambition will get you far as a CRA. Here are four skills you need to build a successful CRA career:

Presentation skills

The ability to stand up in front of a group of people and command the attention of the room – or the zoom call - is a very valuable skill and one that will help you progress as a CRA. Think back to the last person who presented in front of you and left a lasting impression. What was it that made them so brilliant at engaging with people? Was it their confidence, enthusiasm, eye contact, subject matter knowledge, or perhaps all of the above?

When it comes to a good presentation, it’s more than just communication skills. During site initiation visits, your presentation skills will prove essential. If you know your study protocol and study procedure then it should not be a problem delivering your presentation slides, but think about how you can interact with the site team.

A customer focus

CRAs have one of the most rewarding jobs. They work with innovative pharmaceutical companies, helping them to develop groundbreaking treatments. CRAs develop strong relationships and get to work closely with professionals that are the best in their field. But with this opportunity comes the responsibility to provide excellent service to the sponsor at every stage - right from site selection, up until close-out. Having a customer-focus is essential for building rapport and keeping on top of overall site management.

An eye for detail

CRAs have the opportunity to make a difference, but in order to have a positive impact, you’ll need to be meticulous in everything that you do. Being responsible for executing activities within site initiation and start-up, site monitoring, site management and site close-out is a big job. And a large part of a CRA role is writing visit reports and fully documenting trial-related activities. Therefore, a keen eye for detail is paramount and will ensure that you keep accurate and timely data at every stage.

IT skills

More and more jobs are demanding experience in data collection due to the big data boom, and a CRA job is no different. The network collecting this data - and data in the wider healthcare market - is called the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and it projected to be worth $534 billion by 2025.

Big data is currently being used in clinical trials to improve patient recruitment and patient care. As the pool of data continues to grow, so does the demand for professionals who have data management experience. Any CRA role requires a significant amount of information documentation - in clinical trial management systems and through electronic data capture - and to become a successful CRA you need to show either proficiency in IT or a willingness to learn.

Why join the Strategic Solutions team at ICON?

So, do you think you’ve got the skills to be a successful CRA? If the answer is yes, then we want to hear from you. Working in ICON Strategic Solutions is more than a job, it’s a calling for people who care and are passionate about improving patients’ lives. At ICON, we care about our people and your passion, you are key to our success. We aim to provide an open and friendly work environment where we empower our people and provide them with opportunities to develop their long-term career. 

It takes courage to move from one job to another, the process involves careful consideration. Reach out and have the conversation that would change your life and the lives of our patients. Our team of recruitment experts will provide the information you need in making the right decision.  

At ICON you will have the opportunity to work with one of the global top 20 pharmaceutical companies, working on novel therapies that deliver real impact. If you want a career with a difference, ICON is the place for you. Browse our CRA jobs here and start your application.