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How can I get a job as a nurse in the area of Clinical Research Trials? (I’m an RN)?

by tom44 on May 23, 2013

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Question by Kal H: How can I get a job as a nurse in the area of Clinical Research Trials? (I’m an RN)?
I’m an RN, BSN, with 13 years of acute and homecare experience. I live in an area with lots of medical research going on (San Diego), but all the jobs require experience to start. I have seen training programs but don’t know how well they’re respected. Any suggestions appreciated!

Best answer:

Answer by Charles D
I see two possibilities from your question:

(1) Do you want a job where you work in a hospital or clinic and you assist with the execution of clinical trials, collecting data, and reporting it?

(2) Do you want a job where you work for a company that is sponsoring the clinical trial and you travel to lots of different hospitals and clinics, checking on the people in (1), insuring that the trial is excecuted properly?

Job (1) is a clinical trial coordinator position at hospital or clinic. Job (2) is a clinical research associate (CRA) position at pharma, biotech, or clinical research organization (CRO).

Of these jobs, the one that is almost always hiring is the CRA at a CRO. It will mean a lot of travel, but it will give you the best on-the-job training for the others. There are lots of CROs in the San Diego area and I have seen them hiring at lots of San Diego area job fairs.

For the CRA position at a pharma and biotech company, they will probably want someone with experience. You won’t have to travel as much as the CRO job, but so many of the biotech and pharma companies use CROs that there aren’t as many in-house CRA jobs as there used to be.

For the clinical trial coordinator position at the hospital or clinic, you generally have to work through their system. Clinical studies go to investigators because they see a lot of patients with the disease of interest. If it is in oncology, then the coordinator role typically goes to an oncology nurse who has been working with the physician for a while.

There are CRA training programs that may be useful. To test whether they are respected, ask the program managers for information about recent graduates and where they are working. Ask for references from former students. Call the students and see if they were helped in their job search by the program.

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One thought on “How can I get a job as a nurse in the area of Clinical Research Trials? (I’m an RN)?

  1. Smita R says:

    Have you applied for jobs on job websites like Hotjobs,
    Monster, Careerbuilder and Craigslist? You could also search for jobs on websites like Simply Hired and Indeed. You can find more information at

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