May 17, 2023

An Intern’s Take on Starting a Clinical Research Career

My name is Maya, and I am Vitalief’s first intern! I’d like to share a bit about my journey with Vitalief and starting a career in clinical research. In only a few weeks, I will have my bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Rutgers University, and I plan to work in clinical research post-grad.

Finding an Interest in Clinical Research

In 2021, I worked as a COVID Scheduler at a vaccine mega site in New Jersey. During that time, I remember being interested in the ideas of safety and efficacy that were spreading across the news about the FDA EUA-approved vaccines.

I enjoyed the part of my job where I helped patients feel comfortable and answered their questions about the vaccines. It also felt rewarding that the demographic information I was collecting contributed to the data being broadcasted on the news about vaccination and COVID-19 prevalence trends during the pandemic. This experience helped me see research’s downstream impact and made me want to learn more.

How I Learned About Vitalief

I was first introduced to Vitalief in the Fall of 2022 at a Rutgers Career Fair, where I learned about the launch of the Rutgers Clinical Research Coordination Level 1 Badging Program. The badging program gave me foundational knowledge about clinical research, allowing me to better understand the material I read and the conversations I had during this internship. In the course, I learned about research design and data management, ethics in research, and the clinical trial lifecycle, including various checkpoints and approvals required throughout the process. Obviously, being detail-oriented is an excellent quality to have if you are looking to get into research.

Learning About the Lives of Clinical Research Coordinators

Throughout the winter, I stayed in touch with my wonderful mentor Jeimy, who shared her experiences working on the patient-facing side. The ultimate goal of clinical research differs from medicine because it focuses on creating data that is used to prevent, diagnose, or treat diseases. As a clinical research coordinator, your priority is ensuring protocols are followed and that participants are safe and comfortable throughout the process.

Through these conversations, I heard about the challenging parts of this job, which included long hours, a heavy workload, and the attention to detail that is needed. I also learned about the rewarding aspects that make these challenges worth it, such as being able to help patients feel comfortable during the research process and playing a part in advancing healthcare. Overall, this information helped solidify my interest in clinical research as a career path.

Vitalief’s Clinical Research Intern Opportunity

This spring, I was given the opportunity to be an Intern at Vitalief. When discussing this opportunity with Jeimy, she really emphasized that this was an opportunity to grow with the company. As a clinical trials solutions company, Vitalief is able to support clinical trial processes at client organizations. The company aims to address current issues in the field through its various service offerings.

What first excited me about this internship role was the opportunity to connect with people who work in the clinical research field. Over the past few months, I have had so many great conversations with Vitalief staff. I really felt that my contributions and feedback were valued by the teams I worked with.

It stood out to me that they emphasized investing in employee career growth, especially because I later learned that clinical research staff turnover is a huge issue in the field. High turnover rates impact the flow of a research project by creating a recurring need for training and impacting relationships that may incentivize participants to continue participating in a trial.

Exposure to Growth and Community in the Clinical Research Career Path

As an intern, many of the projects I was involved in related to outreach and research. I was tasked with:

  • Connecting with clinical research professionals
  • Finding organizations
  • Looking into roles that clients needed help filling
  • Helping to prepare for upcoming conferences
  • Doing background research on trends that exist across companies and sites

These projects showed me that there is so much room for growth in this field and how important it is to work together and build a community within the clinical research field.

Key Takeaways on a Career in Clinical Research

As someone with a background in biology and work experience in the healthcare field, my initial idea of clinical research was limited to the patient-facing aspect: the drugs given to patients, the placebos, and the FDA approval stamp at the end of the process.

I’ve now learned about another side of clinical research that helps to ensure safety, patient protection, and that the trial follows regulations and budgets. These checkpoints occur through the process of study activation, which can take many months when there are delays with budget negotiations or sponsor response times. They also occur throughout the research process through audits and adverse events reporting.

While these aspects often create the most significant roadblocks, they are so important because they ultimately impact the safety and efficacy evaluations of treatments that become available to patients.

Clinical Research Career Path With Vitalief

As my time as a Vitalief intern nears its end, I feel I have grown professionally. This has been a great experience for building my network and learning more about the various specializations of people who are passionate about clinical research. There are so many facets to clinical research – people I’ve connected with have backgrounds in business, public health, nursing, medicine, and more.

Due to my background, I came into this internship interested in the clinical side. I love science and medicine, and I love interacting with people. Through this experience, I learned that I also love working as part of a team, and I’m interested to learn more about what goes on with the operational side of clinical research. I feel like I better understand what kinds of studies are being done in the field currently and the challenges that this field is facing. I’m excited to continue to stay in touch with Vitalief and see the company grow and provide solutions to meet these challenges!

If you’re interested in working with Vitalief, they have a number of clinical research career openings available.