Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Valor Behind the Scenes - Clinical Research Associate

It's not often that we stop to think about what life would be like without clinical research associates to monitor food and drug tests. One answer is that it would probably be a lot like the past, when regulations were less stringent. All we have to do is think back fifty, sixty, seventy years to realize the importance of drug and food monitoring. There was the Elixir Sulfanilamide Incident, where a medication prescribed to patients with strep throat resulted in the premature death of more than a hundred Americans. You also have the thalidomide baby tragedy, which caused babies in North American and Europe to be born with life-changing deformations such as missing limbs, a tragedy that continues to make headlines still, and for good reason: Good clinical research can save lives and preserve health, and we must not ever forget that.
Quick History
This discipline actually has very long roots - Persian philosopher Ibn Sina was writing about a primitive form of clinical research trial in the 10th century. But the field did not see significant evolution until the 20th century, when the United States brought in change by passing the Pure Food and Drug Act. By the late '40s, the international community had gotten in on the act, with many countries choosing to adhere to the Nuremberg Code, which set out some ethical guidelines for researchers.
An Early Hero
American chemist (and Civil War vet) Harvey Washington Wiley broke new ground that students in the discipline around the world continue to learn about today. His "poison squad" volunteered themselves as guinea pigs for questionable substances - an unorthodox method that nonetheless underscored the importance of testing.
The Situation Today: Who Can Train to Become a Clinical Research Associate?
You have probably seen advertisements for clinical research courses. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, most cities have them.
However, it should be noted that these courses are not the kind of thing that you can simply sign up for straight out of high school. Although requirements may vary, depending, for instance, on the school, or the city (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, etc.), most people who embark on a certificate in this subject already have some kind of healthcare or science-related degree, for example:
- nursing 
- physical therapy 
- ultrasound technician 
- biology 
- chemistry 
- physics

In fact, many of the people who take clinical research training do so as part of their job. Often it is employers who encourage their employees to seek additional training in order to become a clinical research associate.
In conclusion, clinical research associates may work in relative obscurity, but they are lifesavers for whom we should be eternally grateful.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Clinical Research - A Second Career for Health and Science Professionals

Who might you reasonably expect to find enrolled in clinical research courses? Whether in Toronto or Tokyo, no matter where you are, the answer is likely to include a certain percentage of students who come from health or sciences.
In fact, one recent online survey identified "clinical research associate" as an ideal second career for people 50 and over. Why is this such an attractive career choice for people in this age bracket? There are many reasons.
1. Highly developed sense of responsibility
The graduates of clinical research training safeguard the safety of our food and drug supply. They must blend legal knowledge with laboratory know-how; good recording skills with good organizational skills. In some cases, they may be responsible for an entire team. They may be subjected to an audit. They must be able to communicate with colleagues, clients and government officials. They need the motivation to stay up to date on developments in their field.
2. One of the markets for clinical research training is employers
One reason that clinical research courses abound is that there is a demand for them, and that demand comes from employers who want well-trained employees. By registering their employees in related programs, employers ensure that employees have adequate training in such clinical mainstays as:
- pharmacology
- biopharmaceuticals
- medical devices
- biotech
- pathology
- anatomy
- physiology
- estimating costs
- allocating resources
- development protocols
- best practices
- developing products
So, if you are already employed by a pharmaceutical firm or food producer, you may want to use the connections that you already have to segue into a second career in the laboratory.
3. Competitive salary
As a highly trained professional, a clinical research associate can expect to make a good income, as much as $80,000 a year, by some estimates. This is good news at any stage of life, but all the more so as the retirement years draw closer, when you want to make sure that you have enough money to last until the end of your life.
4. Demand for associates
If you look up jobs for graduates of clinical research courses on job boards, they will all likely show the same thing: postings galore. Of course the number of posts that come up in a search depends on the market (both generally and locally) but it is a good idea to keep your eye out for new openings.
Intrigued? If you are already employed, find out if your employer offers any re-training programs. If not, look near you for clinical research courses. Most major cities should offer them. Good luck with launching your second career!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How to Make Your Graduation a Memorable Experience

If you've got a graduation coming up, you might already be thinking about how you can celebrate and commemorate this special occasion. Graduations don't come around very often - so if you want to make yours as memorable as possible, here are a few things to consider:
Invite family and friends 
Your graduation is a very special time in your life - but like any important event, it's made even more special when you can share it with the ones you love. Seeing the pride on the faces of your family, and seeing the joy shared by your friends will turn your graduation into a happy family memory that can be enjoyed and talked about for many years to come. Make sure you invite your family and friends to watch as you receive your degree or diploma, so they can share your special moment.

Plan a party or reception 
Whether you choose to host a small gathering, or a large reception, getting together to celebrate with your family or a group of friends is a great way to create a lasting memory. For most people, graduations will happen only once or twice in a lifetime - so make sure you give the occasion the attention it deserves by turning it into an all-day or all-night event!

Make a record with photos and a graduation ceremony video 
Even the best memories can quickly be forgotten without something to serve as a reminder. Photos are a great way to record the joy of your graduation - and they also serve as a great way to trigger other small, forgotten details from the day. A graduation ceremony video is an even better way to make your graduation memorable - so if you have the chance, make sure you purchase a video of you receiving your degree or diploma. Then you can share it with friends, family, and watch it again in the years to come.

Frame or hang your certificate 
Don't let your valuable degree or diploma sit and gather dust in an old box - hang it on the wall where it can be seen and appreciated! If you have an office space, hang your degree or diploma to show your clients where and what you have studied. Or, just hang it in a special place in your home to remind you of all your hard work, and special achievements.

Graduation memorabilia 
Many people choose to purchase a graduation ring to commemorate their achievements. Most Universities offer Alumni rings in different colours and sizes - so both men and women can wear a stylish reminder of their education, their graduation, and what they have accomplished!

Finally, the best way to make your graduation a memorable experience is to let yourself enjoy it. Relax, the hard work is over - it's time to celebrate what you have achieved!