Clinical trial jobs involve working as part of a clinical research team to test the effectiveness of medical treatments, primarily medications. In many cases, the trial involves testing a medication against a placebo on patients unaware of which one they are receiving. The results are recorded and analyzed to determine whether the medication is effective for the tested disease or disorder. The primary clinical trial jobs in the field are scientist and clinical research associate.
Scientists, typically with a minimum of a bachelor's degree in one of the sciences, draw conclusions from data derived from experiment results using humans who volunteer to take part in studies. Desired personality traits for a scientist include analytic thought process, attention to detail, and a curious nature. Scientists conduct the research as well as supervise associate researchers, who assist with the trial.
Once the trial is complete, scientists compile the data and perform a result analysis that determines how effective the trial medication or medical treatment was on the test subjects. An important component of clinical trial research is designing the study so it can be replicated. This allows the results to be validated or disputed through future trials.
Clinical research associates are assistants in the clinical trial arena. Duties include setting up experiments, locating potential test subjects, collecting research data, and assisting with the final analysis. Students and newly graduated scientists are typical candidates for clinical research associate positions. These clinical trial jobs usually have or are working toward a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing or a life science.
In addition, research associates often explain the experiment steps to participants in advance and gather family medical histories. They are also responsible for making sure the trial complies with regional regulations. In some cases, the research associate is asked to present the trial findings at medical or other conferences.
Important skill sets of a clinical research associate include strong written and oral communication. Computer skill proficiency is also a priority. Being bilingual will give applicants an advantage in many companies.
While test subjects in clinical trials are not employees of the research company, they are usually paid for their participation. Subjects must meet identified criteria for each trial. They must typically be in good health. At times, subjects will be sought who have specifically identified health issues, because the medication must be tried on a person who has the problem the medication is supposed to target. Clinical trial jobs as a test subject can pay anything from free medical care to monetary compensation.