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5 reasons why you should consider a career in Clinical Research

Posting date: 09/11/2022
Author: Inside ICON

The life sciences sector is one of the UK's most lucrative industries, with a turnover of £88.9 billion reported in 2020. There's never been a more exciting or interesting time to join the 268,000 people who are directly employed by the UK's life sciences sector, particularly as we look for treatment for COVID-19. With ever-more advanced technologies making their way onto the marketplace, bringing with them the chance to delve even further into everything from medicines to the way that the human body is structured, working in life sciences and pharmaceuticals brings with it the chance to get involved in one of the country’s most dynamic industries.

That includes clinical research. Clinical research, and clinical trials, are an important step in developing new medicines that can safely be used and distributed through GPs, clinics and hospitals to the thousands of people admitted to A&E each day and the thousands more who access the health service through other avenues. Not only is it an interesting and varied job, but it’s also one that is essential to healthcare systems across the world, and one that we at ICON go the extra mile to support. From encouraging new talent to developing employees in their existing roles, our commitment to nurturing passionate researchers is a continuous source of importance to us.

For those interested in the field or already working in clinical research, here are five reasons why it makes for a brilliant career.

Help make a difference in people’s lives

Clinical research can make all the difference when it comes to saving peoples’ lives, or improving their quality of life. Not only do clinical trials trial new drugs and medicines for general use by the population, such as vaccines for COVID-19, they also tackle diseases that were previously thought incurable, such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, nervous system disorders like Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Even if the work you do might not result in an immediate breakthrough, it will be put in a database where other scientists can study your research and work towards making their own. A perfect example of this is the development of the COVID-19 vaccines which was carried out so rapidly because researchers did not need to start from scratch. SARS-CoV-2 is a member of the coronavirus family, and as research has found, there are hundreds of coronaviruses, including four that can cause the common cold.

If you choose to pursue a career in clinical research you can be sure that you'll make a difference in people’s lives, whether through curing patients in new ways, or working to combat increasingly-prevalent issues like antibiotic resistance, especially given that no new antibiotics have been discovered since 1984

You’ll develop if you work with the right companies

Clinical research is an excellent career to get involved in if you want to develop your role and push yourself, and at ICON, that’s something we take extremely seriously. Given that the industry expectation is that you need two years of experience within the industry to work as a Clinical Research Associate (CRA) and monitor tests, there is a shortage of CRAs, but no shortage of talent waiting to be trained.

That’s why we’ve taken a proactive approach to developing a strong pipeline of CRA talent, investing in the learning and development of our talented internal staff, and opening the doors to new graduates or study co-ordinators who want to get involved in the industry and are interested in discovering how to get clinical research experience. With a variety of development programmes, from the six-month CRA Graduate Programme for new graduates, to the CRA Academy Programme for individuals with previous levels of industry experience, ICON is working hard to ensure that the development of our staff, and the corresponding excellence of our staff, remains one of our top priorities.

You can put your science degree to good use

Not only is clinical research a fulfilling career, but it’s also a challenging one. Clinical research is responsible for ascertaining how safe and effective drugs, devices and diagnostic products are, and as such it’s a demanding role with plenty of responsibility riding on it. It’s also one where you can get stuck in from the beginning in a Clinical Research Associate position, which will give you a strong grounding in business, whilst also maintaining your links to science, and allowing you to push boundaries and develop or test new products.

This is why clinical research is a great career for bright and talented science graduates - particularly those who have a degree in science, bio-medicine, nursing or pharmacy.

There’s a lot of investment in the life sciences sector

Apart from ICON’s range of development programmes available, there’s also a lot of innovation currently taking place within clinical research. In 2019, more than 870,000 participants took part in clinical research studies supported by the National Institute for Health Research Network - a 16% increase on the year before. In addition, the NIHR has continued to support high-quality NHS research with record-breaking 2,194 new studies taking place and a strong focus on children's research studies and mental health research. With ever more investment going into the clinical research sector, now’s a great time to be getting involved in the opportunities and expanding variety of trials opening up within the industry.

It’s a varied role

There’s never a dull day when you’re working in clinical research. The sector is ideal if you like variety and you like to be challenged, because apart from setting up, monitoring and closing clinical studies, you’ll also be travelling to different research areas, writing reports, going into the office for meetings and getting to know hundreds of different people- whether as part of the trials or within different companies. Though it can be hard, as you’ll be working with and managing investigators as well as managing the priorities on studies, the job can also open doors into a whole variety of industries and careers, from Project Management to Clinical Operations. It’s what you make of it. Just one question remains - could you be ICON's next CRA?

Take the next step in your clinical research career

Whether you're recently graduated and ready to pursue a career in clinical research or are interested in exploring opportunities, we may have something for you. At ICON, we are investing in the future of Clinical Research Associates, ensuring anybody who joins this field is supported and has the chance to develop throughout their career.

Take a look at our jobs in clinical research or learn more about our culture today.

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