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The year after; was the CRA-academy really the gateway to become a great CRA?

The year after; was the CRA-academy really the gateway to become a great CRA?

So here we are again, more than a year later since we participated in SMS-oncology’s first CRA-academy. It might sound as a cliché but time indeed seems to fly when you are having fun. We certainly enjoyed the past year, and more importantly, we learned a lot as new fish in the CRA pool.

Thinking back about the CRA-academy, what first comes to mind is the training which involved case studies. We were challenged to think as future CRAs and ask ourselves the questions: how would you approach this? What is wrong here? Is this allowed? Most of the times these trainings led to heavy discussions and we ended up wondering “Will it really be like this in daily practice?”. We became more and more curious as well as excited to experience it in real life. We couldn’t wait to perform our first visits ourselves!

Now, one year later, the five of us all completed our internal training process and became independent CRAs. Performing monitoring visits has become routine while we also performed many site selection-, site initiation- and close out visits, for all kinds of oncology studies we are working on. This includes early phase and pivotal (immuno)-oncology studies, pediatric leukemia trials, and compassionate use programs. Certainly, we all agree on one thing: yes, “in the real world” it really is as presented in the case studies during the CRA-academy. It seems rather funny how we thought it was just an extreme presentation of what we should encounter on site. However, each of us already experienced a situation like the ones we discussed during the academy. Thanks to all the great work of our trainers, we have been well prepared to approach and handle situations on site, and we learned that being a CRA is so much more than carrying out SDV: it’s about site management and building a relationship.

Of course, becoming a CRA is not something you can learn from a manual or via presentations and trainings alone. It requires dedication and experience you obtain within the field. Nevertheless, what we learned during the CRA-academy definitely formed a solid foundation for all the work we have done so far and will do in the future. As we say in the Netherlands; a good start is half the battle!

To keep learning and developing ourselves we think it is quite important to share our experiences with other CRAs, to learn from each other as well as support. In order to stimulate this, SMS-oncology organizes our so-called monthly “CRA-intervisions” for both junior and senior/lead CRAs. During these trainings we are triggered to share our knowledge, successes and happy moments, but also the problems each of us faces. Together, we uncover the best and most effective solutions to challenges we encounter during visits and further grow from our lessons learned!

Overall, the CRA-academy certainly can be labeled a success and we can proudly update our “tracker”: CRA-academy accomplished? Yes!

Alicia, Cleo, Eveline, Mariska and Fleur