Transitioning from CRC to CRA: Is the Time Right for You?

Marian Fisher

Marian Fisher, RN, CCRC, Boston Scientific,

It’s a common question in the clinical research enterprise, but one that comes with no easy answer: How do I make the leap from being a clinical research coordinator (CRC) to being a clinical research associate (CRA)?

ACRP 2018 speakers Marian Fisher, RN, CCRC, a senior CRA, and Thomas Boothby, a CRA II, both with Boston Scientific, know what it’s like to make that leap. In their presentation on “Career Progression in Clinical Research: Transitioning from Site CRC to Sponsor CRA,” they focused on:

  • Determining the right time in your career journey to make the transition (if at all)
  • Evaluating your current competencies and gaps for the transition
  • Addressing your needs during the CRA onboarding process

“Whether the time is right…is really about determining what is right for you,” Fisher said. “I would not say moving from [a CRC to CRA position] is necessarily a progression…but a shifting.” Noting that most employers are looking for at least two years of relevant research experience as a qualification for a CRA position, she added, “The key is you need to be good where you’re at [first].”

Boothby agreed, saying, “You have to know the regulations to know what a coordinator does before you can take the next step” to a CRA role. Making that move is not “a given,” or something that everyone is entitled to, he explained.

After describing the typical professional backgrounds and a “day in the life” of CRAs, Fisher and Boothby encouraged their audience to learn more about how certification through ACRP can benefit career progression goals, to look for positions with contract research organizations that have developmental programs for employees, and to understand the strengths and weaknesses of various options for other forms of certification and training.

It’s also important for CRCs who are considering becoming CRAs to recognize the different types of monitoring being done in the drug and device development industry, the presenters said. Beyond traditional onsite monitoring by making visits to study sites, the nuances of risk-based and central monitoring vs. remote monitoring and in-house CRA activities can be difficult for people not already in those roles to understand.

Author: Gary Cramer