In an industry not known for offering crystal-clear career paths, it’s even more important for clinical research practitioners to fashion their own plan to get from point A to point B if they want to successfully climb the ladder, says Erika Stevens, MA, principal consultant with Recherche Transformation Rapide.
For Stevens, it’s about mastering the fine line between planning and pragmatism. “Don’t pigeon-hole yourself” with too many preconceived notions about where your career should go, she advises. While it’s important to have an honest sense of your own professional strengths and weaknesses, Stevens advocates being open to “a new track or opportunity you might not have considered before.”
The clinical research industry is growing exponentially, both in demand for workforce and the roles and responsibilities required to thrive, she notes.
Unsure of your next move? “Don’t be afraid to volunteer” for an interesting new project, especially if it’s a little out of your comfort zone, Stevens says. In her own past, she’s gotten involved in remediation and corrective and preventive action (CAPA) projects that helped her see new opportunities in existing and future job situations.
Stevens also urges professionals to chase after new skills with an eye on the next position they’d like to hold. For example, take on management or administrative tasks if you’d like your career to go in either of those directions, she advises.
From CRA to VP: A Professional Path
Join Stevens and Dr. Quincy Birdsong of Lipscomb University at ACRP 2022 as they share their non-traditional career paths in clinical research. Take away insights for your own professional development and career opportunities.
Be bold by going after something even if you aren’t 100% prepared. “Stretch beyond your comfort zone, [because] you don’t have to be fully competent” on day one in many situations, Stevens notes. It’s clearly a different matter if something directly impacts patient safety, but in many aspects of clinical trials there is time to ramp up and learn, she adds. “Expand your tool kit” and don’t be scared away if you aren’t completely comfortable giving something new a try, she says.Finally, Stevens is a big fan of the “leap, and the net will appear” school of thought. “Don’t be afraid to leap into something new,” she says. “Be open to something you hadn’t even thought of the day before,” and be opportunistic as you propel your career forward.
Author: Michael Causey