What is it like being a Research Coordinator?

Laura Puri

I am a research coordinator. I have worked at the same institution for 14 years and within the same clinic for the past 10 years. I love my job! As an assignment for the Research Administration Certificate Program, Contracts and Reporting course I was asked to write a short blog post for the CARA blog on a research administration topic of my choice so I thought why not talk about actually conducting the research.

What is it like to be a research coordinator? A research coordinator is a fascinating position, which is forever changing, as studies change so do the participants, the protocol and the activities. In my current position, I have always managed multiple trials at one time. Right now, there are nine trials in the clinic. The trials are a mix of both clinical and observational, which means that my job always has variety and things stay interesting. I run the day-to-day activities of all the trials. A typical day sees me identifying patients for trials, consenting participants for trials, completing and scheduling participant visits. Interacting with participants is a real bonus in this part of research administration and something that many people do not have the opportunity to experience. I get to see firsthand how research helps people and understand the impact research has on lives. I also wear the hat of “bill collector” and manage the finances. I ensure that all the staff that work with me are up to date on required training and that this is adequately documented. I get the opportunity to liaise between departments as I coordinate the research projects and have therefore met many people in my institution that I might not have otherwise.

The job of a research coordinator requires attention to detail, when I interview for new staff I always emphasize this as a research coordinator without attention to detail will struggle. The amount of paper that moves through the office even in this digital age is astounding. The job also requires confidence. Confidence is important in this role because as a coordinator I need to be an expert on all the trial activities. I am the resource that is used by the investigators, sub-investigators, fellows, residents and the other staff. A coordinator needs to be adaptable, the work day is always changing based on the trials I am recruiting to, the patients that show to clinic, deadlines etc.

As a research coordinator, I am the face of the research in our clinic. Patients and participants come to recognize me and we develop a relationship. Without a coordinator the research projects cannot run, the coordinator is an integral part of the research administration process.

Through the Research Administration Certificate course, I hope to expand on the skills I already have and to develop those that I do not. The course will provide me with other perspectives of the research cycle. Will it change my career path? I will have to wait and see.

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