Clinical operations training and degree programs prepare health professionals to administer clinical trials for pharmaceutical research. An associate's degree program or a shorter undergraduate certificate program may train students as research associates. A master's degree emphasis in clinical research prepares graduates for clinical operations management, offering students the opportunity to expand their skills in the areas of management, clinical analysis and leadership.
For undergraduate programs, a high school diploma or GED is mandatory. Master's degree programs require students have a bachelor's degree in nursing or related field. Many graduate programs may also require letters of recommendation, an essay, a year or more of nursing experience, and GRE scores.
Undergraduate certificate and degree programs in the field are sometimes offered online. Students can expect a program completion time of as few as 3 semesters for a certificate to as many as seven semesters for an associate's degree.
Undergraduate Training in Clinical Operations
A certificate or an associate's degree in clinical operations trains students in the conduction of clinical trials, informing them of the guidelines and laws that need to be followed starting with the conception of the drug and ending with analysis of the trial's results. The clinical operations curricula for a certificate or associate's degree are similar, with an associate's degree adding general education courses to core courses on clinical trial protocols and regulations. Courses may include:
- Clinical research introduction
- Planning and implementing clinical trials
- Analyzing and collecting data
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Clinical Research Emphasis
The master's program with a specialization in clinical research prepares students for leadership positions in clinical operations management. The courses in this program teach students how to manufacture and develop drugs and clinical studies, and how to create and analyze reports after the studies are completed. Students also learn the laws and regulations for working in this field. Some of the common courses in this program include:
- Managing and analyzing risks
- Medical writing
- Research and and analysis for clinical trials
- Regulation of drugs and medical products
According to PayScale.com, the salary range for a clinical research associate with 1 to 4 years of professional experience was around $62,793 in September 2019. The average salary for all clinical research associates at the same time period was $63,570.
Graduates can take a certification test from the Society of Clinical Research Associates to become certified as a clinical research professional. Every three years, research associates are required to take 45 hours of continuing education courses and take a re-certification quiz.
Those with experience in nursing have a couple of options for receiving training in clinical operations, including undergraduate certificate and associate's degree programs, as well as a master's program for those with advanced education in the field. Most graduates use their training in clinical research to take on more specific and advanced duties in their current field.