CRA Orientation and Training

I have been a Clinical Research Associate (CRA) for three years, but I recently accepted a new CRA position and thought it would be helpful for me to explain the on-boarding process. Whether you are working for a CRO, pharma/biotech, or as a consultant, there is always new hire orientation and training to complete. The CFR and ICH/GCP require drug companies to ensure that the monitors like me are qualified by training and experience. In order to demonstrate our compliance we must document that training. Our expertise is also documented in a signed copy of a CV.  Finally, we typically sign and date a copy of our company furnished Job Description to be saved in the training or employee files that serves as an acknowledgment that we understand what is expected of us in our role as a CRA.

I blogged a few years back about my experience in my last New Hire Orientation but I will elaborate today on what types of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and training courses a CRA might reasonably expect to complete at any company. So the important thing to note is that you repeat some form of this training at any new company whether you have one year experience, five years experience, or twenty years experience.  In fact, even within a company you may find that you repeat these trainings annually or periodically – this protects you and the company because you have a documentation trail demonstrating your qualifications to monitor clinical trials.

Training First
Everyone signs off on the required training before they step foot into a clinical site. This protects you as well so be wary of any company that wants you to go out and monitor without proper training and qualification documentation in place – it really can be a risk for you.

Companies typically offer new CRAs administrative training, regulatory/procedural training, and project specific training.  Trainings can be administered via a traditional classroom setting, via webinar/teleconference, over the internet using recorded playback sessions, in person, or on-the-job.  Obviously there are pros and cons to the different formats (opportunity to clarify and ask questions, assess understanding, consistency of training delivery, level of interactivity and engagement, etc. but that is a bit off-topic for this post).  Irregardless of the format, at the end of each training some documentation is typically generated and signed (may even be signed electronically) to detail who led the training, who attended, the topics covered, and the date of the training.  You may be in training for a few days or even a few months.  The formality of a new CRA training program is very company specific but I am going to attempt to generalize the three categories of required training that I have experienced.  This is not exhaustive and certainly these may not all apply to you:

CRA Administrative Training
General: How to Order Office Supplies, Completing Timesheets, Expense Reports, Travel Policy

Information Technology (IT): Accessing the Computer, Intranet and Email Policy, Company Specific Websites or Applications, Using Microsoft Outlook/Lotus Notes, Setting up Voicemail and Email Signatures, Electronic Data Capture (EDC) System

Human Resources (HR): Company Overview, Employee Benefits, Performance Review and Employee Development System, Ethics and Compliance, Insider Training, Conflicts of Interest, Privacy Policy, Dispute Resolution, Harassment/Sensitivity Training, Ergonomics, Workplace Safety

Regulatory Procedural Training
Regulatory: 21 CFR 312 & 812; 21 CFR Parts 11, 50, 54 & 56; ICH/GCP; Good Documentation Practices; HIPAA/Confidentiality

SOPs: Informed Consent Process, Investigator Site Selection, Pre-Study Selection Visit (PSV), Site Initiation Visit (SIV), Routine/Interim Monitoring Visit (MV), Close Out Visit (COV), Source Document Verification, Record Keeping and Retention, Electronic Signatures, Fraud and Misconduct, Protocol Deviations, Audits, Inspections by Regulatory Authorities

Project Specific Training (may overlap SOP and general training)
Writing a Monitoring Report
Monitoring Plan
Trial Master File Maintenance
Completing Site Contact Records
Case Report Form (CRF) Completion Instructions
Integrated Voice Response System (IVRS)
Using Diaries, PDAs, or other Patient Reported Outcomes (PRO) Instruments
Protocol Training
IRB & Regulatory Submissions
Study Budget
Investigational Product Handling and Accountability
Randomization and Unblinding
Study Supply Management
Serious Adverse Event (SAE) Reporting

I hope this overview was helpful. I am happy to expand on any of this – just comment or email to let me know if you have follow-up questions.

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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.


  • Anonymous

    April 5, 2010

    I am interested in the role of a CRA in the process of SAE reporting. Will appreciate it , if you can elaborate on that.

  • CR

    January 12, 2010

    The topic can’t be explained better. Its always a great learning whenever i stumble across your blog. Thank you!

    Free Clinical Research Books

  • Meaw

    December 2, 2009

    Thanks a lot, it is very helpful for me. I always keep update your blog every week.
    Love it
    Meaw, CRA (Thailand)

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