Current Job Title:
Clinical Research Coordinator
Michigan Institute of Urology
Describe your current job:
I am responsible for conducting phase I-IV industry sponsored clinical trials for urologic oncology and urological disorders/diseases in accordance with standard operating procedures, federal regulations, and ICH-GCP guidelines. This means that I run trials for investigational products, such as drugs and medical devices, that have not yet been approved by the FDA. I aid in the future approval of these products by noting side effects, benefits, adverse events, and safety/tolerability during the trials. In a normal day I may see 4 or 5 patients or I may be working in the lab/doing data entry. My clinical responsibilities include screening medical records, obtaining informed consent, taking medical histories, monitoring patient condition, and performing vitals, ECG’s, venipuncture, and other urologic related testing (uroflow, urodynamics, urinalysis, and urine culture). I interpret lab results and treat patients appropriately for any urologic related infections. I also manage investigational products shipments, temp logs, dispensation to patients, accountability records, and storage.
What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your job?
Many of our trials are geared toward patients who have severe prostate or bladder cancer and are out of options for their next steps in treatment. Because of that, it is very rewarding to be able to offer those patients a new solution and provide new hope to them. Some of our trials also offer genetic testing, which is incredibly expensive but is valuable knowledge to have for treatment options, so it's nice to offer this to patients who couldn't normally afford it even with insurance. It's also rewarding to see the success of the medical devices and drugs and know that eventually they will be on the market to help a wider patient base. The most challenging part of this job is, unfortunately, seeing some of those devices or drugs not work for patients who were counting on the medication/device being life changing for them. Additionally, it's very hard to watch a patient go through a trial that is placebo controlled because it's hard to see a patient hope for change when you know they are receiving and inactive form of the medication.
What activities, resources, or people helped you prepare for your career?
I worked as a receptionist at an immediate care center within a general practice on the weekends while I was in college and it was incredibly helpful to work that closely with 10-15 different physicians. I was learning about numerous disorders and how to identify and treat them, names and functions of medications and when they are appropriate for use, and I was able to observe minor surgeries and procedures during my shifts. Being so close to the physicians helped with letters of recommendation and general advice for the future, and I felt more comfortable walking into my current role having such a wide medical knowledge base.
What advice do you have for others pursuing a career similar to yours?
The medical field is so competitive and everywhere wants experience. It's very tough to get a job offer right out of college without having significant experience in some type of medical field. The only reason I was offered my job is because of the experience I had gained through college, which was just from working part time. If you have weekends available for a part time job, take advantage of that and apply to general practitioner offices for a receptionist position. A general practitioner office or immediate care center is great exposure because they see so many different disorders and they are not confined to one type of disease. Shadow physicians, work as an emergency scribe if you can, volunteer at the hospital, expose yourself to the medical field as often and as much as you can. Once you start finding physicians that you are close with, it will be that much easier to receive letters of recommendation and to highlight the areas of medicine that you've been exposed to on your CV.