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Clinical research training helps healthcare professionals skill up into new roles

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Thanks to an ongoing partnership with local healthcare employers, Portland Community College is helping meet a critical need for COVID-19 researchers. Due to a range of COVID-19 trials, as well as other research protocols that need to be modified due to the virus, clinical researchers are in high demand in Oregon.

The Foundations of Clinical Research is a non-credit certificate program at PCC’s Institute for Health Professionals that targets a slightly different demographic than the average community college student. It helps healthcare professionals in a variety of careers, such as certified nursing assistants (CNA), medical assistants or paramedics get the knowledge and skills they need to embark on a career in clinical research.

Students with a bachelor’s degree in science, such as biology or health sciences, are also a great fit for the program, which can help launch them into a career as clinical research assistants or coordinators. The six-month, online program is an entryway to a healthcare field with a balanced work schedule.

Clinical Research.

Foundations of Clinical Research Info Session

If you are interested in the Foundations of Clinical Research Program training to give your healthcare career a boost, then attend an information session on Tuesday, March 16 for the April 1 cohort.
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For years, Cynthia Trinidad worked as a CNA and then a health unit coordinator, but wasn’t sure if she wanted to advance her career as an RN.

“I knew the lifestyle of a nurse, and I was at a crossroads, trying to decide, ‘Do I want to continue down this road or choose a different career?’” she said. “I knew I wanted my career to be in the medical field. I’ve always found research interesting. We did research in the psychology classes I took for my BA, but I didn’t know how to quite break into that field.”

After completing the Foundations of Clinical Research Program and a three-month internship, she interviewed for a research position at Providence Health & Services and got it. Since then, she has been able to advance her career within the research program there.

Amy Evans, the business training and educational development coordinator for the CLIMB Center’s Integrated Health Program, shared that the program was created because industry partners had a need for trained applicants for their clinical research positions. Kaiser Permanente was interested in helping their employees skill up into new roles. Others, such as Providence and Oregon Health & Science University, wanted to hire qualified candidates. Evans worked in partnership with managers and clinical researchers from OHSU, Providence Health & Services, Kaiser Permanente, and Legacy Health to develop the curriculum.

“The field is really exploding,” she said. “It also has a range of opportunities for people to enter from. I love helping people be able to launch into a new career. The potential is huge because they can specialize in so many different areas.”

The program is beneficial for local companies, as well.

“There’s so much onboarding with clinical research, and our program provides much of that foundation,” Evans added. “Hiring graduates or encouraging employees to enroll can be a tremendous cost savings for companies in terms of training and onboarding.”

Cynthia-Trinidad

Cynthia Trinidad.

One recent PCC graduate, Kinjal Shah Mistry, impressed her interviewers at OHSU so much that they called her back and asked her to apply for a higher-level position.

“I moved to Oregon from Mumbai (India) in 2019 after I got married,” Shah Mistry said. “I’m a pharmacist by profession, and earned my masters in pharmacology in India.”

With help from one of her clinical research instructors, Shah Mistry revised her resume and soon started to receive calls asking her to interview.

“They were impressed by my regulatory knowledge, which all came from the program,” she said. “After interviewing, they called to ask me to apply for a senior position. Now I am a senior research coordinator at Oregon Health and Science University.”

Shah Mistry added, “If you are interested in clinical research, I would recommend this course. I had bookish knowledge before, but this program actually showed me what clinical research is, and how it works. With the amount of knowledge you learn, it’s a great value. I got what I wanted—developing protocol and getting our site ready for a clinical study is interesting and exciting work.”

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