Working in clinical trials is hardly a standard desk job. For some of our GMRF Clinical Trial Coordinators, sitting at a desk is the shortest part of their day. On International Clinical Trials Day, we raise awareness of the importance of trials and recognise all the hard working people who make these trials possible.
We also take this opportunity to thank all the participants in clinical trials, who make the choice to advance data to support potential new treatments.
13,576 steps – a day in the life of a GMRF Clinical Trial Coordinator
GMRF Clinical Trial Coordinator, Sogol, shares a snapshot of her day to show what clinical trials are really like for the people bringing this research to life. Sogol joined the team in 2020, with three years’ of prior experience in clinical trials. At GMRF, Sogol coordinates four oncology trials and one respiratory trial.
Before work – I am not a morning person at all but I get up and take my lovely dogs out for a walk anyway as my brain wakes up for the day ahead.
8am – I get to the office and check my list of patients for the day. Sometimes there is only one, sometimes three or four.
Once I know who’s coming in for an appointment, I make sure that I have all the supplies I need for their visit, like data sheets to collect their vital information, blood tubes for sample collection, and oxygen tanks for people who need some extra help breathing.
Supplies in hand, I head up to the Cyril Gilbert Cancer Centre (CGCC) within Greenslopes Private Hospital to meet my first patient.
9am – at CGCC, I see my patient; on this day my patient is a young person diagnosed with melanoma. I collect any data on how they’re feeling, if they’ve had any medication changes, or if they’ve experienced any adverse events*. With all this information in hand, I prepare to meet their doctor for an update.
10am – By this time, the patient has been reviewed by the doctor and cleared for treatment. I order the treatment from the hospital pharmacists.
We work closely with Ramsay Pharmacy to have trial treatments prepared.
11am – Before the patient receives their treatment, we do a couple more checks to see how they are. We take blood samples and measure vital signs, like their heart rate.
While the CGCC nurses administer the treatment, I take the patient samples, including blood and sometimes urine, back to our GMRF lab for processing, or prepare to send them to external labs
12pm – Lunch! After running around the hospital for most of the morning, lunch is a time for our team to catch up on our day. We’re a close team and always support each other, so if anyone needs help or has questions, we discuss it at lunch. When we’re not talking about work, we like to play games at lunch, like Wordle.
1pm – After lunch, I see a different patient at CGCC. Together with the doctor and the patient, we check all their results – pathology for their blood and urine contents, ECG to see how their heart is functioning, and scans and radiology reports to identify whether their tumours are shrinking or growing.
All these results help us to see how the patient is generally responding to the treatment they’re on. We make an extra effort to include the patient in these discussions, so they’re up to date with how their trial treatment is progressing. Our patients are at the heart of everything we do, and we try our best to make them feel comfortable.
2pm – Now I get into the nitty-gritty data part of clinical trials, in the office with the Data Managers. After each patient visit, we share lots of different data with the Data Managers to input into systems.
Sometimes the trial sponsors or data mangers have questions about data I’ve given them, so I need to help resolve any questions. Having clean and correct data is crucial to clinical trials.
3pm – as the day starts to wind down, I’m back at my desk setting up external appointments for patients, such as ECG tests, lung function tests, scans, cannulation, and more. After each visit with a patient, they can need up to five extra appointments for further tests.
4pm – I start wrapping up at 4pm, making sure everything is ready to do it all again tomorrow. The clinical trial assistants help me out in the lab to prepare all the tubes and containers for the next day’s patients.
After work – When I get home, I take the dogs out again; they’re very excited to see me after a full day away! I also try and get to the gym most afternoons to do a yoga or Pilates class.
“I love working in clinical trials because I get to wear many hats, from entering data behind a computer, to working with biological samples in a laboratory, no two days are the same. It’s also extremely fulfilling to be caring for people at a very vulnerable time in their lives, and their appreciation makes all the hard work worth it.” Sogol
Without clinical trials, many of the medications and treatments people can access today simply wouldn’t exist. Trials are a vital step in helping to find cures for the future.
We’re proud to have a diverse Clinical Trial Unit at GMRF with studies in various areas of oncology (prostate cancer, melanoma, and head and neck cancer), to trials in different disease areas like liver disease and Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) lung disease.
Learn more about our Clinical Trials Unit
*an adverse event is an incident or reaction associated with a medicine, vaccine, or medical device. This can be anything from itchy skin or a headache, or more severe pain for example.