Transitioning into Work as a Remote Site Monitor

Following her life science studies, Annika completed a doctorate in preclinical anticancer drug research in New Zealand. After that, she worked as a post-doctorate in pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modelling at the preclinical research department of a pharmaceutical company. Learn why she moved into clinical trials and applied for a job at PPD.

Annika BringsI was curious to learn more about clinical drug development, spoke with a friend and then visited a job fair at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. PPD had a booth where I spoke with an employee about the company, its thorough training and its good atmosphere.

I applied and was hired as a remote site monitor. Following general training, I spent two weeks learning about the study I was assigned to. I familiarized myself with the study protocol, the monitoring plan and the disease. I had an experienced remote site monitor as a mentor who answered all my questions. When I started working on my study, my team colleagues were supportive and I learned a lot from them.

One of my duties is to build relationships with the study teams at clinical trial sites, which has helped improve my listening and communication skills. Working within clinical trials requires compliance with the guidelines of the responsible governmental authorities, which means reading and adhering to standard operating procedures. Moreover, project teams in global clinical studies are big with various team members working together across borders. A lot of the team communication takes place via teleconference or email.

Together with a clinical research associate (CRA), I am responsible for supporting and monitoring clinical trial sites. Our overarching objectives are to ensure patient safety and data integrity. In contrast to a CRA, who travels to sites to check study documentation and supplies, I am office-based where sites reach me in case of questions. I also regularly reach out to study coordinators.  Moreover, I provide them with study-related information, training or address issues. I work with the study coordinator to make sure that the trial is conducted according to its protocol and in line with regulations. Preparing, conducting and documenting these site management calls takes most of my time. Sometimes I accompany CRAs to sites to conduct a site file review, which means checking that all required documents are filed at the site.

I keep an overview of the different clinical trial sites and organize myself so that I have information at hand when I need it. This includes staying on top of a daily flood of emails. In calls with site personnel, I naturally stay friendly, patient and confident under all kinds of circumstances.

I work as part of a country team that includes CRAs, project assistants, remote site monitors and a few other functions. I enjoy that we regularly share information and discuss problems, constantly learning from each other. We also distribute the work among us, working together more efficiently. When I have questions or problems, my team manager and my line manager are also there to support me. In general, we have a lot of team spirit.

PPD considers career development paths, which means I have the prospect of being promoted to a remote site monitor II, and may be able to serve as a mentor for new remote site monitors then. For the longer term, I could imagine developing towards a more senior role on my team or project management.

For those thinking about a similar career in clinical research, I would suggest considering your time management skills, especially if you thrive on communication and teamwork. It’s also important to be educated on the different phases of clinical studies and the possible job profiles. In preparation for my interview with PPD, I researched a lot of this information through the company website. If you have a chance to talk to someone working in the clinical research field at a job fair or through networking, that’s a great way to get a sense of the day-to-day experiences.

I really enjoy working at PPD and love the atmosphere of “One PPD” my colleagues share. We always have a good laugh together, and it’s a good feeling to know I’m contributing to the systematic evaluation of new therapies.

For those interested in exploring opportunities with PPD, I encourage you to visit our careers page and viewing current openings within the company.