An interview with Natalie, a trials assistant working on our cancer studies.
What do you do?
Whilst the bulk of my work consists of filing for all the various trials, I also do data entry for forms – for example quality of life forms. I am responsible for responding to the randomisation notification emails for the EURAMOS 1 osteosarcoma trial. That means whenever a patient is registered or randomised into the trial I have to enter their details, update the accrual spreadsheets and make sure the relevant clinician and first point of contact for that centre are informed.
On an ad hoc basis there are requirements for printing off and binding protocols, assisting with mail outs, photocopying and helping prepare for any upcoming meetings. However the tasks seem to vary from trial to trial, as well as on a daily basis. Occasionally it can be necessary to help assist with data chasing, to find out which forms are missing from patient files from each centre involved.
The amount of involvement with each trial differs. However, it is always interesting to learn as much as possible about the trial through the administrative tasks or by reading the protocol.
What skills and qualifications do you need to be a trials assistant?
It is important to be organised and efficient, so you can make sure that all the documents you deal with are easily accessible to everyone who has to use them. You need good time management skills too, as jobs which require urgent attention need to be dealt with as soon as possible but everyday tasks, such as filing, needs to be attended to on a regular basis. Working with different members of staff who look after various trials means you need to be able to spread your time evenly between them, but also recognise that some trials need more time spent on them than others.
What’s the potential for career development?
Whilst working as a trials assistant you are able to watch and help with some of the tasks required to be a data manager. You are also able to learn about how trials are run and the background work involved. Trials assistants can go on to become a data manager and then a trial manager.