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A day in the life of a CRA

Posting date: 15/04/2019
Author: Inside ICON

The role of the Clinical Research Associate (CRA) is a critical one within the pharmaceutical industry, playing a vital role in Phase I, II, III and IV clinical trials. We’re always looking for ambitious, dedicated people to join us as CRAs at ICON operations all over the world – but what does a typical day in the life of one of these professionals look like? 

Eithne, CRA at our Dublin office, talks us through her career journey and what her average day entails. 

“My first job as a graduate was as a research assistant”

After graduating with a degree in Environmental Earth Science from University College Cork, Eithne worked as a research assistant in the Waterford Institute of Technology. She developed skills in conducting her own clinical research before graduating with a Research MSc and took up a role at Firecrest before becoming a CRA at ICON. 

At Firecrest, Eithne developed industry experience as a Clinical Trial Subject Matter Expert (CTSME), joining a production team responsible for creating protocol training content and ensuring training was correct and in line with the Sponsor protocol. This saw Eithne gain valuable experience working with a multi-functional team of technical writers, designers and QA professionals. After spending some time in client management, Eithne found herself missing the clinical element of her role and took up an opportunity to transition internally to a CRA role. 

“The nature of this role allows me to work predominantly out of the office”

While Eithne is office-based in Dublin, she spends much of her time visiting Clinical Research Facilities and interacting with research teams. Monitoring UK clinical sites, she enjoys weekly trips from Ireland to various parts of the UK. The travel element of the role means Eithne has seen many different cities and towns. 

“Being a CRA means you’re involved in so many different parts of the industry”

A typical day for Eithne involves monitoring site files for regulatory compliance to ensure the sites are ready for inspection. Patient safety is an important part of the CRA role, with Eithne and site staff regularly carrying out assessments of patient notes to ensure procedures are safe and performed according to protocol. Investigational product compliance helps to ensure the correct drugs are administered to patients in the trial. 

The overarching view of the clinical research process that the CRA role provides means that Eithne has experienced almost every different part of clinical trials and says she’s always learning about different disease areas and indications. 

“The most enjoyable part of my role is the interaction I have with the site staff”

Eithne loves interacting with people, presenting and being at the forefront of the study and says the CRA role ticks all of these boxes. She enjoys presenting the protocol during site pre-initiation and initiation visits, as well as assessing sites for future participation in research studies. The role is a continuous learning curve and keeps Eithne on her toes, challenging her and ensuring no two days are the same. 

“If you enjoy learning and being challenged, then the role of CRA could be perfect for you”

Being a CRA has a unique balance of science, medicine, project management and travel, says Eithne, creating opportunities to learn a wide variety of skills. She says her time management and organisational skills have been honed as a CRA and she loves meeting new people as she travels around the UK. With so much to learn in a fast-paced environment, adaptability is key – and it’s worth it for the professional rewards of being a CRA. 

Could you be ICON's next CRA? We operate in more than 40 countries around the world, meaning you can take your CRA career further. View our current CRA vacancies to find out more.

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