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Thinking of Becoming a Clinical Researcher?

Posted by | 11:49am on Tuesday, March 15, 2011
test tubes

I recommend gaining quality exposure to these jobs prior to making any decisions 

This is a guest post from S.J. Ochoa, who blogs to raise awareness of clinical research careers. At Siren, we understand the importance of clinical research in identifying the causes, diagnosis and treatment of the nearly 7,000 known rare disorders for which only a small fraction have FDA approved therapies.

Clinical research is the study of a drug, biologic or device in human subjects. Let’s start with some definitions of the different jobs involved in clinical research.

  • MD: Signifies Medical Doctor, a doctor’s diploma in medicine.
  • PhD: The highest education obtained at a college or university, usually requiring 3-5 years of original study in a specific field.
  • MD/PhD: An education including both the training of a medical doctor with the rigor of a scientific specialist.

There are also a variety of supporting roles, such as Clinical Research Coordinator and Clinical Research Associate. A Clinical Research Professional functions as a clinical investigator, sub-investigator, clinical researcher, research nurse, administrator, coordinator, consultant or educator in clinical trial management according to the Society of Clinical Research Associates.

Generally a double degree (MD/PhD) is good for those who find themselves interested in both clinical and bench research. An MD/PhD will place you at some advantage in grant-writing if you are a new researcher. Eventually, the degree matters less because research employers assess you depending on your actual accomplishments. Studying scientific research will also be easier if you have been trained as a physician.

Do Your Own Research
I recommend gaining quality exposure to these jobs prior to making any decisions. Before you decide to set off on one of these paths, do some clinical shadowing plus some lab research. Neither clinical nor lab bench work is exactly what it may appear like in theory. You will need to get your hands dirty. Make an effort to check around, find out about them and get a taste of each one.

What do you think are the pros and cons of choosing a MD, MD/PhD or PhD career? Are you interested in working in clinical research?

(Image courtesy of Horia Varlan on Flickr.)

About Eileen O'Brien

Eileen has more than 16 years of digital healthcare marketing experience. She is an opinion leader on social media and biopharma, and has been invited to speak at industry conferences and quoted in publications.

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