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Day in the life of a CRA

Clinical Research Associate Jennifer Zerhusen talks about her average working day.

“There is no such thing as a standard day in my role as a CRA as I work between a number of sites and my office at home. I’ve been with ICON for over seven years now. Prior to this I worked for a competitor for eight years and before that I completed a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology.

Whilst I was working for the competitor, I had some colleagues move across to ICON. I asked them how they were getting on and the response came back “It’s like moving from Jerry Springer to Oprah”. After that amusing and intriguing statement I decided the time had come for me to move across too.

As I said, there’s no such thing as a standard day for me. If I’m starting the day in my office my first task is to go through my emails and see if there’s anything urgent that needs my attention.

I’m always connected with my team: instant messaging and video conferencing mean that if there are any problems or questions, we can quickly discuss and solve them.

The number of projects and sites that I work with varies greatly. Sometimes I’ll be working on one project with fifteen sites or three projects across a couple of sites. For the current project I’m involved with, the monitoring is so complicated that it is all taking place on one site.

I find that organisation is the key thing for me in my role. It can be real famine or feast – quiet for a while and then suddenly crazy and the only way to cope with the busy times is to remain focused through the systems you’ve already put in place and make sure they’re all optimised. I think that it definitely wouldn’t be a good role for someone who doesn’t take pleasure in organisation!

When I’m on site for a day, I tend to start at around 7am (this is just because I’m a morning person – I’m always told I’m crazy!) when I take advantage of the quiet to see what’s really going on in the project and to get a game plan together.

I look into how the patient schedule is going and where the pressure is landing on the team. I always emphasise that it’s a team effort – I need them and we’re here to support each other. If relevant, I’ll meet with the doctor and see what’s going on with the patients.

I really enjoy my job but if I had to pick a favourite part, it’s the fact that I’m always learning.


I was Pre-Med at college until I decided it wasn’t for me and moved to Biology. I love that I’m still able to dabble in medicine and learn new things every day. I enjoy seeing these products going to market and knowing that it’s saving and improving people’s lives.”

If you are interested in joining our Clinical Research Associate team, please take a look at our current CRA vacancies here.

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