“Hanging up my scrubs was the best decision I ever made,” says Megan De Maria, an associate clinical research associate (ACRA) at Merck since January 2021. The enthusiasm in her voice is clear as she discusses her and Merck’s shared commitment to patient care. “Working at Merck is about improving the patient’s quality of life,” the former nurse says.
Like many in the clinical research field, De Maria entered it somewhat by happenstance, with a little luck thrown in for good measure. A friend from nursing school introduced her to the world of clinical research. De Maria saw it as an “amazing way to get off the floor, avoid 12-hour shifts and working weekends, yet still being able to care for patients,” she recalls.
The life of an ACRA appeals to De Maria on a number of levels. “You learn something new every day, and no two days are alike,” she says. “I’m a people person, and this job is all about building relationships with site staff.”
She found the transition from nursing to ACRA was made easier by Merck’s strong onboarding program, including hands-on mentoring, and learning from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals’ (ACRP’s) competency program. De Maria was paired with a CRA mentor at Merck on day one and says that she found it to be “a great opportunity to ask questions” from a professional. “It provides exceptional hands-on training,” she adds.
While the clinical trial industry isn’t yet recognized for ubiquitous, crystal-clear career paths, De Maria says upward mobility is well-illuminated at Merck. “I see clear career paths here,” she says. “I believe going into clinical research is a great decision that will lead you to a fulfilling career.”
Further, while she has the perspective of someone relatively early in her career, De Maria believes the same exciting opportunities are available to others no matter where they are in their professional journey. “Take a look at clinical research,” she says. “It’s never too late to find a fulfilling role.”
Author: Michael Causey