What Is a Clinical Research Coordinator?

Clinical research coordinators (CRCs) are the people that organize a research study and ensure that it’s operating smoothly.

With this career, you’ll be able to exercise your creative muscles by problem-solving a wide array of issues that may arise in the process. It’s a pretty important job that reaps both professional and financial rewards after you’ve gone through the hard work of earning the credentials needed to get started. 

Continue learning more about CRCs, what they do, and the difference between CRCs and Clinical research associates by reading the rest of this article!

What Does a Clinical Research Coordinator Do?

Like earning the Clinical Research Associate (CRA) credential, earning a Clinical Research Coordinator credential requires both a time and financial investment. Before we get into what it’ll take to become a CRC, let’s first explain what clinical research coordinators do in their jobs. 

Clinical research coordinators are the individuals involved with coordinating all the different tasks that have to occur simultaneously for a successful research project to be performed. These tasks may include helping to hire clinical research associates, clinical researchers, and other staff necessary to carry out the clinical trial. CRCs may also be responsible for recruiting individuals to participate in the clinical trial. 

You can think of CRCs as the managers and organizers of a clinical trial. They may be called upon to perform many other tasks not listed above to ensure that the clinical trial takes place without significant hiccups, such as finding software needed for gathering data in a study

Since CRCs are so intricately involved in the research trial, they will also be responsible for evaluating how the clinical trial is progressing while the research is being conducted.  

What Makes a Good Clinical Research Coordinator?

One of the top skills necessary for you to excel in this job is the ability to organize. Organization is essential, as there will be many tasks happening simultaneously that you’ll need to manage, and honing your organizational skills will ensure that things don’t slip through the cracks and get missed. 

The second skill you’ll need to focus on developing is the ability to multitask. As we mentioned, clinical studies are complex processes that have many moving parts. You’ll need to be able to dive into each associated part, prevent problems, and implement solutions whenever they occur. Sometimes these problems occur simultaneously, which may require you to look for help from someone else involved in the study. This ties into the management skillset, which will be required to ensure that everyone knows their job, how to perform their job, and deadlines for each aspect of the study. 

A learned skill that comes with job experience is the ability to prioritize the most important things during a study. This is a learned skill that usually just comes with experience, but studying hard in the classroom will give you a great start. 

CRCs also often work with other individuals such as the principal investigator (PI), who will often help find solutions to problems encountered in the study. 

What Is the Difference Between a Clinical Research Associate and a Clinical Research Coordinator?

The difference between a CRA and a CRC can be a confusing distinction, so we are going to explain how these jobs differ here. CRCs and CRAs are sometimes used as synonymous titles, but they are two separate certifications. 

In a nutshell, CRAs work more closely with the individual or company that is actually conducting the research, sometimes referred to as the sponsor. CRAs ensure that the clinical research trial is conducted in a way that satisfies the sponsors’ expectations and adheres to good clinical guidelines. 

The other significant difference between the two positions is that the CRA is more likely to work offsite, away from where the research is taking place and only occasionally making site visits. In contrast, the CRC is more likely to work where the research is happening to provide more direct oversight of the research operations. 

What Are the Duties of a Clinical Coordinator?

We mentioned briefly that CRCs are involved in many tasks, including but not limited to research participant recruitment, adhering to the research plan and good clinical research guidelines, problem-solving issues that may occur during the study, and ensuring that the researcher knows their goals and that they achieve them according to the schedule outlined. 

As the name suggests, CRCs coordinate the various moving pieces that occur while a research study is being conducted. You can expect to fill out various reports on the progression of the research as part of your daily job, and you will also have the opportunity to interact with the clinical researcher or researchers and research participants in the study. You’ll get the best of both worlds as a CRC!