Diana Alves

Clinical Research Associate II

At ICON, we like to share employee stories to give insight into what it is like to work here. We spoke to Diana Alves, who joined the Strategic Solutions team at ICON in December 2020. She had previously worked as a Clinical Research Associate (CRA) at another clinical research organisation (CRO) but was looking for a new challenge. Here’s an overview of her role.

What does your average day look like for you?

It varies a lot one day from the next, which makes the job interesting. Before the pandemic, I would typically start my day by travelling to hospitals and clinical trial units and meet with the doctors, nurses and pharmacists. It’s my job to review patient information, medical records and data collected during the trial. I ensure that it’s clear, well documented and that the trial is going as planned. I review their compliance and that the correct doses of medicine are administered. Once I’m back in the office – or home, now that we’re working remotely - I write the report, documenting what I’ve seen and whether there are any discrepancies. This gives everyone a clear picture of what is happening. Then I prepare for the next visit.

Following the pandemic, the industry quickly adapted and my role has changed slightly now that more remote monitoring is being performed. This is not only because of newly imposed safety measures in several hospitals, but also in an attempt to manage the workload of the clinical teams. Otherwise, my other responsibilities have remained largely the same as I was working from home before the pandemic.

I am the first point of contact between hospitals and the client, so they come to me if they have any questions or if things aren’t going accordingly. There can be a lot going on in this job, so if you know how to prioritise, you'll go very far.

What are your main responsibilities as a CRA?

I am responsible for initiating and training the site. Every time I meet a new research team, we set aside a day for training to run through the protocol and how the systems should be used. During the study, I visit the sites and ensure the protocol is being followed. If there are new people involved in a trial – say a new doctor - I make sure they are appropriately trained on the study. I’m there to ensure compliance, patient safety and data integrity - these are our main goals.

What do you enjoy most about being a CRA?

I learn so much about various diseases and novel ways to treat them. I also love that every day is different because it means I don’t get bored. Being a CRA is a chance to meet new people, so it’s a great role for developing social skills and learning how to manage research teams.

Before Covid-19, I would have said travelling was also one of my favourite things about the job. I was able to travel around the UK and see different cities, including Glasgow, Brighton, but I was also able to visit Barcelona, Spain. If you’re organised, you can plan your work so that once you arrive, you have time to explore. Because of restrictions, I travel less now, which leaves me more time to concentrate on my tasks. The shift to a more flexible working schedule has given me a better work-life balance, and I can now invest in my personal development. ICON provides iLearning courses that I now have the time to really focus on. With the industry moving more towards remote monitoring, I think we’ll still see travel remain a part of a CRA role, but it will be more balanced with the other areas of the job.

Why was ICON the right fit for you?

I was working at a small CRO, and I decided that I wanted to find a company where there were more opportunities. I know a few people who work at ICON, and they have all told me how happy they are in their job. We get great support from our managers, and on a personal level too. I appreciate this because a CRA job can be quite challenging at times. At ICON, there are plenty of opportunities to learn, good training, and we get to work directly with some of the big pharma companies. This has helped me with my career progression.

Would you recommend ICON as a place to work?

Yes, I definitely would. The thing I like the most about ICON is that everyone is made to feel appreciated, and we receive a lot of support and training. Also, we have colleagues all over the world, so there’s a good network where you can share knowledge and ask questions. Lastly, I’d say how caring the people are. This is important because when you have a good culture and community, it's reflected in your work.

Why join the ICON Strategic Solutions team?

Working at ICON 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 to 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 to make the right decision.  

Join our community and you will have the opportunity to work with some 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 and join our growing network of bright and talented professionals.