Subscribe

Forum

From academia PhD to clinical research- how do I enter?

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward, Dave Walker
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

From academia PhD to clinical research- how do I enter?

Postby Mike H » Wed Jul 11, 2007 10:31 am

I have finally finished my PhD in Molecular Genetics and am now actively job searching. I\'ve sent in applications for various positions such as a medical science liaison, clinical trial manager, and clinical scientist with no luck. I am now actively calling people and have had better luck. In fact, I met with one contact who has mentioned that she believes I can get a position at her company as a clinical trial manager right away (which I am now applying for). And I made it through a few interviews for a medical science liaison by contacting someone. However, others who I have not met and talk with briefly over the phone express that it would be difficult to get my foot in the door and might want to start as a CRO/CRA.

Bottom line is that I want to get into my foot in the door at a pharmaceutical company and move into clinical research. But I would have a difficult time starting as a CRA.

Does anyone have advice on the best route to take? For example, since I am not completely selective as to what I do, might it be easier to get a position as a medical writer? Or is there some other typical entry level position for a recent PhD graduate who has done fairly well during that time.

If anyone has experience and would be willing to discuss this more, that would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for your help

Mike
Mike H
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

From academia PhD to clinical research- how do I enter?

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Jul 11, 2007 12:20 pm

Hey Mike, put up a profile and maybe you\'ll snag a response from an old pro like Jim Gardner, a fellow who checks in here regularly but generally responds only to those people with a profile.

I have a question for you . . . If a contact suggested you should start as a CRA, why not? What\'s wrong with that as a foot in the door to the clinical world?

Yes -- medical writing can also move you in that direction, but there are a lot of people looking at jobs like that.

Dave Jensen, Moderator
“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
User avatar
Dave Jensen
Site Moderator
 
Posts: 7958
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

From academia PhD to clinical research- how do I enter?

Postby Ned » Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:23 pm

What exactly is a CRA?
Ned
 
Posts: 118
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:30 pm

From academia PhD to clinical research- how do I enter?

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:28 pm

Ned, a CRA is a Clinical Research Associate, an entry level job in the field of clinical research. I hope you\'ll find other desriptions of this work here on the Forum; I would think that Mike has issues with it because it is a job that does not require a PhD. Even nursing graduates are in demand as CRA\'s.

Dave
“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
User avatar
Dave Jensen
Site Moderator
 
Posts: 7958
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

From academia PhD to clinical research- how do I enter?

Postby Eric » Wed Jul 11, 2007 4:12 pm

Dave,

Wouldn\'t a PhD lose out to those with true clinical credentials (physicians, nurses, pharmacists) in clinical research positions? Or can a PhD-trained scientist correct for that and move up from a CRA position?
Eric
 
Posts: 978
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:30 pm

From academia PhD to clinical research- how do I enter?

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Jul 11, 2007 4:46 pm

Eric asked, \"Wouldn\'t a PhD lose out to those with true clinical credentials (physicians, nurses, pharmacists) in clinical research positions? Or can a PhD-trained scientist correct for that and move up from a CRA position?\"

We\'ve had some features on Clinical Research jobs here on Science Careers. There are really two different categories of jobs in the field, and one of them is appropriate for PhDs. The other is more patient healthcare oriented, and that\'s where the MD\'s come in. Here\'s one of those wonderful compendium links to resources that Jim Austin puts up from time to time:

http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2002_04_05/nodoi.200930193325907012

Dave
“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
User avatar
Dave Jensen
Site Moderator
 
Posts: 7958
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

From academia PhD to clinical research- how do I enter?

Postby Mike H » Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:12 am

Thanks for the input and the links. I would be willing to start as a CRA if that is what it takes. However, a few people I spoke to suggested that could be a step back and so I only worried it could be negatively viewed by some. Recruiters often tell me to look for CRA jobs, while others I\'ve spoken to directly suggest I might get a job directly as a clinical trial manager or MSL (which I\'m now realizing are very difficult jobs to get without industry experience)
I haven\'t really heard from many people with their PhD who went directly to a CRA and then on from there, yet I know there are many people with their PhDs who are in positions such as a clinical research scientist or a clinical trial manager. I just wonder what their career path has been like?
I just want to make the right choice with a foot in the door type job.
Thanks,
Mike
Mike H
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

From academia PhD to clinical research- how do I enter?

Postby Jim Gardner » Mon Jul 16, 2007 1:12 pm

Mike,

At my company (a very large pharma), PhDs are not hired for CRA-like positions. These positions are highly administrative and not very scientific. Big decisions in clinical trials are almost always made by physicians--because patient safety is often part of the equation. In the design of clinical trials the physicians are joined by the biostatisticians (who are responsible for the efficacy design and analysis) and senior trials logistics personnel. Our CRAs do not even participate to a major extent in the writing of trial protocols--this is done by specialized protocol writers that are part of the medical writing department.

Of course the exact job duties of CRAs varies by company so check opportunities carefully to make sure that the position is appropriate for your interests, abilities, and qualifications.

Remember that not having an MD degree, prevents you from ever having certain high-level clinical responsibilites--as a PhD you can not prescribe treatments for adverse events and should not be interpreting lab and diagnostic data to decide on treatments or whether to discontinue patients from a trial.

The entry-level medical writing thing is very much a possibility for a science PhD with publications. You need to network to find such positions. I know quite a number of PhDs who have gone straight to the pharma industry with no writing experience. It is not easy--but doable. Working for a temp agency (as I did) or a CRO is also a possibility for getting writing experience. If you want to go the temp route--apply at the local offices of agencies in the heart of big pharma areas (like NJ and the Philadelphia, PA areas). If interested you should search the forum for medical writing information--there has been quite a bit over the years.

Good luck!

Jim
Jim Gardner
 
Posts: 115
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

From academia PhD to clinical research- how do I enter?

Postby Brent C. » Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:24 pm

If you want to become a CRA (clinical research associate) without any prior experience in clinical research, you almost have to go through a contract company (CRO) such as Quintiles, PPD, PRA, or Kendle. These four companies have been known to hire PhDs with no experience and pay to train but those slots are coveted positions and highly competitive. Most CROs (and pharmas I would think) tend to hire nurses with a few years experience who are looking to get out of the daily grind.

If you cannot find a CRA position, often times CRO companies have \'project assistant\' positions that are a trainee role for a CRA. The pay is considerably less but so is the travel. You could work as a project assistant or clinical research coordinator (CRC) for a year or two and look for promotions within. I know it\'s disheartening, but if you really want the clinical trials jobs this is normally the way.

That being said, these are quite different from medical science liaisons (MSLs). I, too, am graduating this year with a PhD and considered looking for employment as an MSL but I realize I don\'t have enough experience just yet. My first thought was to go for a Clinical Research Associate job and continue to look for MSL openings but it\'s really changing one hard-to-get job out for another.

Other options are a post-doc at CDER (center for drug evaluation and research) at the NIH. Perhaps this on your resume would help you along. These are just some ideas... I\'m shooting from the hip. Wish you the best! If you come up with anything inspirational don\'t forget to tell the rest of us!!
Brent C.
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:31 pm

From academia PhD to clinical research- how do I enter?

Postby Mike H » Tue Jul 17, 2007 10:32 am

Thanks for the advice Jim. It\'s always helpful to hear from someone with the experience as it should help me focus more. And the profile helps in providing examples of successful career paths.
Brent- It sounds like you might be in a similar situation. Let me know if how your progress goes, and I will do the same. Feel free to contact me again if you want any more detail about my job search... not sure if that would help or not.
Mike H
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Next

Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 22 guests