New Hire Orientation

New Hire Orientation for a Clinical Research Associate

Day One of Orientation

I have been at new hire orientation all week. We started at 8:30a on Monday with HR. They reviewed new employee stuff including company history, benefits, and general company information. I was greeted at lunch by two long-time employees who took me out for a nice meal and told me more about the company culture and their studies. Most of the CRAs at training already knew what their assignments would be but I didn’t even know who my manager was at this point.

Afternoon of Tech

After lunch, IT came in to deliver rollerbags and laptops. My laptop is more like a workstation (but it is tiny, light, and so cute!) because I have no administrator access and can’t even change the system time or download a thing. Sites like YouTube are blocked but luckily Blogger works! Unfortunately we use Lotus Notes so that will take some getting used to. In my previous CRA position I was addicted to my MS Outlook calendar and contact functions. I have a PDA phone by Motorola so I would sync this constantly and it will be hard to go without. Lotus is 21 CFR Part 11 compliant and my CRO has chosen it because of its database capabilities. Every study gets a repository where essential trial documents and forms are stored and this is all shared through Lotus. This is better than a share drive because the repository can be ‘replicated’ which is a fancy term for saying I can view it even if I can’t get on the VPN. For homework I had to read the employee manual.

CRA Training on Day 2

I talked a few of the CRAs into joining me for dinner so it was a fun and relaxing evening. The next morning we reported for CRA II training. There were 6 of us in the class and we are all Regional associates (4 from the East Coast and a gal from Phoenix). CRA training lasted only about 3 hours and was just a quick review of ICH/GCP and a ‘how-to’ for source document review. After lunch we learned how to track our time. The system we use is not terribly complicated and I finally found out what study I would be working on and since it is only one at this point, reporting my time won’t be so difficult. As CRAs, we are expected to be 85% billable. That means I need to be traveling or doing client work most of the time. I have to ‘bill’ these items to the sponsor by accurately completing my timesheet. This is easier said than done; I have been telling people it requires a bachelor’s degree because each 15 minute increment has to be coded to the specific task you are completing so it can get complicated. For homework we had to mock up a sample timesheet. Luckily completing your timesheet is billable because it takes a while!

Bull Ride Challenge
All the new CRAs are asked to take part in a bull-ride
challenge.  If you can last 30 seconds you advance
to the next day of training.  Just kidding!

Third Day Administrative Training

The third and final day of training was a hands on demo of how to complete an expense report. Again, this is no easy task. It is made easier by the fact that I was issued a Corporate Amex. I will put all charges on my Amex (except where it isn’t accepted) and keep my hotels under $150/day and meals around $50/day unless I have written manager approval to go over (which will be required depending on what cities my sites are in). There is no preferred airline but I will be using National car rental and usually Hilton hotels as they are the preferred vendors. A large CRO can have ‘preferred vendors’ because they require traveling employees to use Amex. In this way, they can run queries to see how many nights employees stay in hotels and things to negotiate special preferred rates. I will have $30/mth for a cell phone stipend, my broadband and phone line will be reimbursable including installation. I have been given a $1600 stipend to furnish my home office. Lucky for us, charges to the Amex pre-populate into the expense report so that helps. Corporate pays the card directly as long as I submit the expense report within 14 days of the trip. Airfare will always be non-refundable so I can submit the expense report the moment it hits the Amex and do not need to wait for the trip to actually occur first.

New Hire Orientation is over

It was a busy 3 days but a lot of fun, too and I may never again venture to corporate headquarters so it was a nice opportunity to get a glimpse of how the home office runs. I will hopefully have project specific training soon and meet my line manager (at least over the phone anyway). Now I am busy reading SOPs and doing on-line training for the next few days.

About The Author

The Lead CRA

Nadia started The Lead CRA blog in 2007. She is now lead author for ClinOps Toolkit. Nadia is currently working as a Clinical Program Manager at a small specialty pharmaceutical company in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can reach Nadia via email at [email protected] anytime.

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