How to move into independent consulting as a Clinical Research Associate
Since you are reading this, you are probably working as a Clinical Research Associate (CRA) otherwise known as a Clinical Monitor. Perhaps you are working for a contract research organization (CRO) or a pharmaceutical company.
Moving to independent consulting before you have enough experience is not wise. How many years of experience do you have as a CRA? Consider what your reputation is where you currently work. Are you a go to person in your organization? Are others trying to recruit you away from your job? What are your strengths and weaknesses as a CRA?
Before you make your move, would additional training to enhance your CRA credentials give you an edge as a consultant? You may consider doing DIA courses appropriate to your situation. Being a member of professional organizations, such as the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA) and the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) can help you stay up to date in your field.
I have worked with many CRA consultants. Some work independently as CRAs for CROs or pharmaceutical companies but may be regarded as contractors rather than consultants. Others are consultants, who function as CRAs, but are also brought into higher level meetings to advise on non compliant or problem clinical research sites.
Some of your best sources of referral, if you make the transition, will be people you have worked with, I have reached out to independent CRAs, because I knew them and worked with them in the past, whether they were independent or working in an organization at the time. Some were referred to me by others who had worked with them.
The people you have enjoyed interacting with at team meetings, site initiation visits, investigator meetings are good leads. This is especially so for medical directors and clinical operations people with hiring authority, though anyone who is likely to recommend you is a plus.
When you feel you are ready to make the transition, you should lay the groundwork. Independent consulting or contracting as a CRA is a business. On this website, see a stepwise approach to establishing a business and to get started as consultant.
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