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Pharmaceutical Research Assistant

Jennifer Dohanish

Tell us about your work---what do you do? I work for a clinical research organization, which is contracted by various pharmaceutical companies to initiate and monitor clinical trials at investigational sites throughout the country. My position is primarily in-house with minimal travel, but could potentially lead to a regional monitoring position, which is more intensive, higher paying, and requires a higher skill level and more traveling. What skills are needed? Ability to work independently and with a team; effective communication skills with different levels of the medical community; attention to detail; critical thinking skills; computer proficiency; basic understanding and competency in data flow, tracking systems, regulatory guidelines, and study documents. What was your major? Communications, but a science or health -related background is preferred. How did you get started in your career? I began as a " Project Coordinator " (basically an administrative assistant) and worked my way up the ranks. What experience do you need in this job? One to two years of clinical research experience Describe your "typical" workday: Basically, I work with a lot of study documents. They must be reviewed for accuracy and adherence to regulatory guidelines, submitted to regulatory personnel in some cases, tracked, and filed. Investigator files must be reviewed routinely and efforts must be made to resolve deficiencies. I make regular contact with and fulfill requests of regional monitors and investigative sites. Occasionally I will participate in monitor training and site visits. What is the hardest aspect of your job? This field has high earning potential. However, the higher paying positions require almost constant travel and some medical knowledge. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? It is rewarding to participate in the drug approval process because the end result could potentially offer new solutions in the medical field. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Know your options; a science degree is invaluable in this field.