Not every physician coming out of medical school wants to go down the path of conducting clinical research. But for those who do, the decision is a rewarding one that can make a real difference in patients’ lives.
I took a nontraditional route to get to my current role as the director of clinical research and education at the largest gastroenterology practice in the United States. I had a business degree coming out of college and worked for years in the business world prior to going to medical school. After graduation, I got an offer to join the pharmaceutical industry in medical affairs. There, I focused on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), where my role was to share high-level scientific data and liaise with IBD disease state experts. Part of the role was working internally with clinical operations and externally with sites conducting research throughout the United States. In the next 6 years, I had the opportunity to observe how research was run in both the academic and community practice settings, noting those characteristics that allowed some to succeed and far more to stagnate or fail.
In 2014, I joined Texas Digestive Disease Consultants with the goal to ramp up the practice’s clinical research arm and create a department expressly for that purpose. To date, the department has become incredibly successful and ultimately sustainable. If you’re considering joining a practice based on its clinical research program or starting one in your current practice, here is what I’ve learned along the way: