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Clinical Research Associate: Paving The Way For Clinical Trials

Updated: Jan 20

✍🏻 Elliot Taylor | Clinical Research Associate at Caritas Science Solutions

 

At Workflow Weekly, we are showcasing stories of individuals with life sciences backgrounds, who have worked in non-lab-based science/healthcare roles. We want to raise awareness of the incredible careers and organisations that are immersed in science and healthcare, but outside of the lab.

 

Story Spotlights: Clinical Research Associate


Grace Binney at her BSc Neuroscience graduation at the University of Birmingham

Elliot is a Clinical Research Associate at Caritas Science Solutions.


He is due to graduate soon from the University of Leeds in BSc Medical Sciences (with Industrial Placement).


Elliot has shared his experiences leading up to his current role as well as tips for students looking to pursue a career in a non-lab-based role.


 

What’s your educational background and why did you choose a life sciences route? 👩🏼‍🔬


I am soon (I hope) to graduate with a BSc in Medical Sciences from the University of Leeds. I chose this as it allowed me to explore many aspects of medical sciences such as neuroscience and pharmacology, and subsequently enabled me to specialise in an area that interested me in my latter years at university.


I wasn’t the best student as a kid; I was more interested in sports than doing my homework. Something changed around sixth form (I’m not quite sure what) and I was motivated to pursue a career in life sciences/healthcare.

 

What work experience have you undertaken in the past? 👩🏼‍💼


Something that my parents drilled into me from a very young age was the importance of just getting out there and working, whatever it may be.

I first started working on a fruit and veg stand outside my local train station when I was 14 and my first experience in a clinical setting was volunteering on the emergency floor of my local hospital, helping where I could and listening to the stories of some long-stayers on the wards.


Before university, I had the opportunity to take a year out to work and travel. I worked multiple jobs including a stint as a personal assistant to a gentleman with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which reinforced my desire to work in or around healthcare.

I then travelled with my partner to South America for 4 months, backpacking around Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil. Whilst this is a careers article, I highly encourage everyone to travel anywhere with a different culture on a shoestring budget and experience life. You’ll never regret it and will provide with you the best memories and experiences.


Throughout university, I had a couple of part-time jobs such as working night shifts at Tesco during COVID. I was also fortunate enough to conduct research for myself on a summer internship with my personal tutor. We assessed different compounds in a computational model for their ability to improve atrial fibrillation outcomes on the heart.


During the summer between my first and second year of university, I had to decide whether I wanted to turn my degree into an integrated master's or do a placement year. I opted for the placement year, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.


After a pretty exhausting application process, I got accepted onto a clinical operational industrial placement year at GSK which involved, essentially, running global clinical trials to develop new medicines.

 

What is your current role and what do you do day-to-day?

Why did you choose this role/career? 👩🏼‍⚕️


I loved my placement and fell in love with clinical research as an industry.

My placement allowed me to work on global studies, but I felt very far away from the patient in the process. Due to this, I wanted to become a Clinical Research Associate. This is a clinical research professional who makes sure that trials run effectively at the hospital level.


In a nutshell, I am the first point of contact for the hospital to raise any issues with the patient during the clinical trial.

If there is a safety issue, the protocol of the trial is not followed correctly, or the clinical data is wrong, I am the person to sort it. I conduct this work for a contract research organisation (CRO) called Caritas Science Solutions where I’m also responsible for business development.



Caritas team photo
Caritas team photo. Elliot is pictured in the back row, second from the right.

 

What was the application process for your placement year like?

What tips would you give students looking to apply for placement years, internships, or graduate roles? 📋


The application process for my year in industry was intense. I think there were 5 stages including some situational judgement tests, a CV review, written responses to questions, and then various stages of face-to-face interview.


I’ve made some strong connections in the industry along the way. I can’t stress enough how important this is.


Ask that senior person for a coffee, speak to people about their jobs and ask how you could get involved. Be keen; it’ll get you far!

These connections introduced me to the CEO of Caritas, and it went on from there.


I started working part-time for them during my final year at university then was offered a full-time position from February 2023.

 

What are 3 things you would tell a young person interested in pursuing a non-lab career in science? 💡

1. Be Patient

There is so much out there beyond the conventional lab role.


2. Give Everything A Go

3. Be Keen


 
Elliot Taylor, Guest Content Writer at Grace Writes

Written by: Elliot Taylor (Guest Content Writer)

Grace Pountney, Editor-in-Chief at Grace Writes

Edited by: Grace Pountney (Editor-in-Chief)


 

Career Conundrums

Each week, at Workflow Weekly, we answer your Career questions!

Science Snapshot Blog logo

Q: I want to work in healthcare but I am not sure whether I want to work in a hospital. What should I do?

A: Try and get some work experience in a hospital, and a healthcare-related role outside of hospital to see which you prefer.


Also, make sure you do your research and reach out to individuals in positions or organisations you are interested in, in-person or on LinkedIn.


 


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