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Becoming a CRA with ICON

Cissy Chen, one of the rising CRA stars with ICON Australia, describes how she became a CRA.

ICON has been at the heart of my career since I left university nearly four years ago. Their ongoing support is the real reason why I’ve progressed within the clinical research industry.

I did my degree in medical science and I had been thinking about doing a post graduate medical course in order to become a doctor, like my mum. She’s been the doctor on a number of clinical trials and when I started to express an interest in trials she shared her experiences and lent me books about how to become a CRA.

When the opportunity came up to do an internship with ICON she said that it would be a great experience for me and I agreed. It turned out that this was an excellent way to learn about the options available, I was exposed to the entire business and I learned that there were a number of different routes I could follow using my degree, such as research and lab work. It also gave me a really thorough understanding on what really happens during a trial, I learn about how the human body works and how drugs are created to interact with this.

I had a great mentor who gave me the in-depth information on how drugs get to market by going through many different cases and examples so I had real world cases. The internship meant that I worked all over the business with a number of different people and I’m really grateful the grounding it’s given me.

After working in an admin position as a clinical trial assistant with ICON for a year I progressed into becoming a CRA. I really enjoy it as a role, I like the fact that I get to talk and work closely with people. I hadn’t considered myself a people person before but now it’s one of my favourite parts of the position. I like the changes that occur, you can see the differences between different projects. It’s also definitely a role that suits other parts of my personality – I like challenging myself and keeping things neat and organised, both very important parts of the job!

My experience as an Intern meant I had connections with a number of different projects so I was able to start building up an understanding of who the sponsors are. This meant that I could become part of the conversation straight away when I started my job. ICON has really supported me, with monthly training forums where the whole department get together and talk about guidance and study current changes. There’s also regular training with my supporting managers, who I can discuss my ambitions with and together we work on goals I want to achieve. 

I’ve been a CRA for over two years now and I’m also working towards my Masters in Pharmaceutical Medicines & Drug Development. I don’t want to become a doctor any more, I’m very pleased with the choice I made to take on my current role and I’m excited about the career opportunities that I will gain from working with ICON.

When I was at university clinical research wasn’t much mentioned during my course, which is a shame because it’s such an important part of the scientific community. So for those taking a science degree I would definitely recommend looking into the clinical industry, there are a huge number of possibilities available for you and you’ll be able to feel like you’re having a real influence on the world.

If you’re interested in working for ICON you can take a look at the roles we currently have available for CRAs here.

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