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Six Skills to Become a Successful Clinical Research Associate: #SuccessFactors

On the hunt for a fulfilling career as a clinical research associate? Here are six essential skills to consider for a successful career path as a CRA at IQVIA.

At IQVIA, we are tackling some of the biggest challenges in healthcare in pursuit of our mission to accelerate innovation for a healthier world. Our clinical research associates (CRAs) play a vital role in that effort, serving as overseers, conductors and documenters of our clients' clinical trials. 

CRAs at IQVIA are ambitious, passionate and bring a deep level of expertise to solve complex clinical issues while ensuring adherence to regulations and sponsor requirements. An IQVIA CRA’s ultimate goal is to deliver life-changing therapies as fast as possible, but without compromise.

Think this might be the career for you? Here are the top 6 factors to support a successful career as a CRA at IQVIA.

  1. Communication 

    As a CRA, you are the key liaison between management, the study site, and the sponsor. With so many moving parts in clinical research, strong interpersonal skills and good command of English are important. It is also critical to have fluency in the local language of the respective country you work in. When difficult conversations come up, you’ll rely on these skills to effectively manage the situation and ask thoughtful questions. 

    “Effective communication as a CRA comes down to considering your audience and their unique needs,” said Brandon Rodriguez, clinical Functional Service Provider CRA. “As a CRA, you regularly have conversations with healthcare professionals, management and site personnel, all with varying education levels, knowledge and skillsets. It’s important to read the room, know how your audience wants to receive information and pivot based on who you’re talking to.”

  2. Relationship management 

    A CRA builds relationships with all parties involved in the trial. Much like communication, there are nuances to these relationships. A great CRA knows when to lead versus support, can effectively manage through site-related issues and stays connected to study staff and research sites. 

    “Relationship management is a pivotal component of monitoring,” said Jordan Adamson, senior CRA. “Establishing trust between yourself, as the CRA, and the sponsor and site staff help create a positive work environment for all parties. These relationships are beneficial to study compliance, productivity and collaboration so we can all achieve our end goal to improve patient outcomes.”

  3. Attention to detail 

    Keen attention to detail while executing site activities — initiation and start-up, recruitment, monitoring, site management and close-out — is critical to the quality and integrity of any study as the smallest error can lead to major consequences. As a CRA, your meticulousness in documenting how you conduct protocols, adhere to applicable regulations and capture site findings and action plans is foundational to the study’s success. 

    “Find a tool that works best for you… it can be anything from old fashioned pen and paper, folders, spreadsheets or digital notes…whatever you choose, just be sure to capture everything you and the site have done and still need to do,” said Janet Robinson, senior CRA 3. “We work in an environment where everything is important, and if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen. An acute eye for detail will ensure that you keep accurate and timely notes at every stage. This will help later with time management, too!”

  4. Critical thinking

    Rapidly changing protocols, low patient recruitment and data errors are the norm in clinical research. As a CRA, you are the decision-maker, and the site team relies on your clinical expertise when it comes to spotting and solving problems. Critical thinking is key. If you spot a site-related issue or error that could impact data or patient safety, chart a course for corrective action. Study protocols, Good Clinical Practice (GCP) documents and operating procedures are all tools to support you in mitigating risk that could jeopardize the integrity of a study or cost the sponsor time and money. 

    “Rather than letting adversity get you flustered, reflect on past experiences and use a ‘no time wasted’ approach to influence the outcome of a future project or milestone,” said Stephen Baeder, clinical Functional Service Provider CRA 2. “Take a step back to evaluate the situation, use your resources, training and past experiences to brainstorm potential solutions, and deliver quickly and compliantly.”

  5. Time management 

    As a CRA, no two days are the same, and you must adapt to an ever-changing environment. A well-trained CRA must be able to effectively prioritize their time and juggle competing priorities across projects and site personnel to ensure the trial is carried out within the appropriate deadlines and within budget. 

    As for managing your day-to-day responsibilities, sometimes figuring out where to begin is the biggest problem. Your task list can feel overwhelming, so a simple to do list is a great way to arrange your responsibilities. Rank your tasks by priority and tackle them one by one!

  6. Stress management 

    Being a CRA is not always glamorous. There are long days on the road, rapidly changing protocols and monitoring reports to complete across multiple study sites. Treating patients with drugs for the first time can be stressful for patients and CRAs alike. 

    “As a junior CRA, you have done the training, but now it’s time to pull all the pieces together, and that can be a daunting and overwhelming thought,” said Robinson. “Finding a mentor to field questions without judgement can help alleviate some of the stress. At IQVIA, we have a fantastic mentor program to help our CRAs navigate those early days and thrive through their career.” 

    Off the job, find your outlet, whether that’s mediation, exercise, reading or spending time with family and friends. IQVIA is a huge proponent of work-life balance. We know you can’t be successful at your day job if you are not taking care of your mental, physical and social health, and we are here to support you to that end. 

What can you expect in return from IQVIA?

Love what you’ve read and think you’re a great fit for a CRA role? Join us! IQVIA offers a rewarding career path, compensation structure and development programs for CRAs. Our well-established training programs, access to cutting-edge technologies and the stability of a global organization enables you to have a long-lasting and fulfilling career journey as a CRA at IQVIA. 

“At IQVIA, we are committed to supplying our CRAs with the right tools, training and development support to allow for success and career growth,” said Dan Mink, director, Clinical Operations. “In addition to the rewarding work, collaboration and engaged line management, there is a constant focus on development as your career growth supports also the growth of the company.” 

Take the first step toward a fulfilling CRA career at IQVIA. Apply to our CRA jobs today.


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