A clinical research coordinator is a multi-functional job that requires expertise in conducting medical or scientific research combined with the ability to collaborate and coordinate all of the tasks involved with research trials. These positions are only open to experienced professionals and are not entry-level jobs. Demonstrated experience working in a clinical research setting is almost always a requirement.
There are multiple educational paths that can be taken to eventually become a clinical research coordinator. A strong background in biology, microbiology, and the social sciences is critical. This can be achieved by majoring in these or related fields as an undergraduate in an associate or bachelor’s degree program. There are also degrees in clinical research. This field of study usually includes courses in human-oriented research, research ethics, safety and efficacy of investigational products, data collection, and more. Courses in database design and maintenance are also beneficial since clinical research coordinators often have to collect and manage large amounts of data.
Many higher education institutions now offer certificates in clinical research. These programs are available to professionals who already have a degree, usually in a science or health care field, who want specialized training to prepare them for clinical research jobs. These programs usually consist of three to six courses that explore the nuances of a clinical research career in detail. Many of these certificate programs do require some prerequisite coursework in subjects such as statistics, science, and clinical research.
Once a clinical research coordinator has some professional experience, it is possible to get a master’s or doctorate degree in clinical research. These graduate level programs are often flexible and allow working students to attend part-time, in the evenings, and even sometimes online. The coursework covers cutting edge clinical research methodology and can help with career progression. However, many jobs only require education at the bachelor’s or even associate degree level, so graduate school is mostly a personal choice.
A clinical research coordinator organizes all aspects of important clinical trials. They typically plan the start-up procedures for these trials, ensure compliance with state and federal regulatory guidelines, and design and maintain databases for collecting the data. They need to have excellent interpersonal and communication skills since they often have to interact with patients, doctors, and researchers. Teamwork is a regular component of the job as well. So training and experience in collaborative environments is essential.