Clinical Trials...

Hi everyone,
In the ongoing pursuit of part-time medical work, I now have several possibilities…
…as I wrote earlier, there’s Nurse Asst. at the nearby hospital. (Their HR dept. and I are playing phone tag, they are highly disorganized, but I now know they’ve checked my references and have “passed” that.) No guarantee that I’d get the MICU, or any other dept…but the “float” position is sounding more interesting. It’s higher stress, low in the hierarchy, and middling money…and some real, albeit quick, patient contact. I’ve had 2 interviews already…and they want another appt.
I’ve also interviewed at an assisted living complex, for a PCA —> Med Tech…I shadowed one evening and have a second interview today. I would train ASAP from PCA to med tech; the MT does glucose level checks, insulin injections, and give out meds at dinner and bedtime. The residents are quite “with it” mentally, w/ the exception of the Alzheimer’s unit. It seems the least stress, the least money, and the greatest opportunity to really know the people I’d be doing things for.
Finally, later today, I have my first interview for a Research Asst. position at the only place around that does clinical drug trials. It’s well respected and the MD/PI has published ~50 journal articles. The job would have lots of patient contact (by phone and appts), but I’d be doing few, if any, procedures…it’s the most money, w/a flexible schedule.
(whew) OK, so does anyone here have experience w/clinical trials? My concerns are ethical…on the phone, the person I spoke with stressed “aggressively getting patients to enter the drug trials”…I’m not entirely comfortable with that statement! What’s meant by “informed consent” is often not the whole truth given to the patient (i.e. risks are sometimes minimized in the consent process). Has anyone here done this kind of work? I’d really like to hear about any experiences with this work.

I worked as a study coordinator full time for about a year at a private clinical trials business and then again part time for device trials at the cardiology practice I was working at as a pacemaker/ICD tech. My experience with the clinical trials was largely negative. I did learn a lot about medicine and pacemaker/icd’s but it was mostly because of a concerted effort on my part and not so much because of the trials themselves. The reason that both places were running trials was $$$. At the clinical trials place there was a tremendous amount of pressure to enroll patients and complete the visits. (Each completed visit means $$$). Each month we had a meeting where the past months earnings for each coordinator was displayed and the underacheivers were reminded of their need to increase productivity. We worked with docs that got a cut of the money but weren’t very good at identifying candidates for the study. As a result I spent a lot of time going through patients charts and looking for people with whatever condition it was that we had a drug for at the time. Further, the doc’s acted like signing the study forms was a tremendous inconvenience. This brings up the fact that there a fair amount of paper work that has to be kept in a very specific way that is reviewed regularly (monthly) by people from the pharma company running the study (or often some company they contract with). Basically I didn’t like it because 1) the focus was money, 2) the physicians that served as the investigators weren’t really interested in spending time on the studies 3) you don’t really get to see the outcome of the study, 4) I never really felt that I was helping people because the drugs/devices under study were generally things that were already out there that the companies wanted to market differently, 5) a lot of paper work.
The positives as I can see from my biased perspective were: 1) potential to make a lot of money if you can really get subjects enrolled and your company gives incentive bonuses, 2) you get to travel to study meatings which are usually held in interesting places at swank hotels, 3) you get to interact with physicians.
The bottom line is that some people really like that kind of job. They always struck me as the “salesman” type though. That’s something I am not and don’t want to be be. Despite the significantly smaller paycheck, I’m much happier doing esearch at an academic institution where the focus is learning. Hence, my goal of being a physician and not a businessman. Anyway, snide comments aside, that is my perspective in rough and dirty couple of paragraphs. Anybody else out there have a different (better) view?

Damon, thanks!
Whenever there’s a LOT of money involved, I get suspicious!
This first interview went well…got told straight off the bat, that I am way over qualified. huh.gif HUH?!! I’ve never done Research Assistant work in my life! (although I did design a clinical, psychological study for the hospital here). Anyway, the interviewer is keeping a nurse (BSN) in mind for the Research Assistant position, and was asking me if I’m interested in being a site coordinator…again, HUH?! huh.gif This is pretty strange!
I only want to work 20-30 hrs per week… study, be with my family, etc. the rest of the time. Then she asked if I’d be willing to relocate. (No, I’m not going to uproot my family for this, then again for med school). But here’s some choices…Honolulu or Akron.
Now, if any OPMs are interested in, (and qualified for), these jobs of RA or site coordinator, send me a private message and I’ll give you the particulars so you can pursue it. It’s a large clinical trial “company” with sites peppered throughout the country.
Anyhow, she kept talking about the pharma companies, how she works at least 9 hrs a day, lots of stress, Stress, STRESS, etc. The RA job is 30 hrs/wk, some flex scheduling, OK money (but not a lot), but the idea of 30 hrs of stress on the high seas doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, even though there’s some patient contact. I don’t want to “sell my soul” just because there’s pressure to get patients into these studies! At this location, all the studies are in Phase III/post-III, so safety concerns are minimal. The doctor involved is well-published and well-regarded around here…not super high and mighty.
For now, they’re interested…she will talk with the doctor about me, etc. Plus there’s the possibility of doing some work for them, or the closest affiliate office that’s closer to Philly, on an “as needed” basis. If my ethical concerns are unwarranted in this situation (i.e. they treat patients well, have informed consent as full & open as possible, et al.), then I’m interested too…IF I can keep the hours to 20-30/week.
So thanks for your words of experience; much appreciated! We’ll see…I just want a part-time medical/research job w/patient contact. And, I’d like that part of my life settled! cool.gif

Your welcome! I hope something good works out! Later