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Emma Hedley is a Senior Clinical Trial Manager in the Experimental Medicine Division of Nuffield Department of Medicine. Here she describes her career to date, what a typical week looks like and what advice she would give to someone looking to work in trial management.

Number of years in clinical trial management

Over 20 years’ experience

How did you get here?

I joined the Osler Respiratory Unit at OUH Trust as a medical secretary over 20 years ago and moved into research several years later, not having any prior knowledge or experience of research. In addition, at the time the Oxford Respiratory Trials Unit only consisted of a very small team of 6. As I have mentioned, I had no prior experience and as the team was so small, it was all on the job training/learning. The first trial I worked on was MIST1 (U.K. Controlled Trial of Intrapleural Streptokinase for Pleural Infection) recruiting over 400 participants in 52 centres in the UK. This was a challenge for me as there wasn’t the support networks that we have today. Over the years I have gained many skills in trial management, having worked on a variety of different trials/studies, CTIMP, device, intervention, single centre, multi-centre.

What do you do in a typical day/week?

No week is ever the same! Depending on the trials/studies I am working on the tasks vary but may include, arranging/attending/preparing reports/minutes for TMG/TSC meetings, troubleshooting with sites, setting up/greenlighting recruitment sites, contract negotiations with external sponsors and sites, protocol and core document development with the Oxford Respiratory Trials Unit management team and researcher prior to submission to sponsor. I also provide mentoring/training to junior staff members and line managing the team, input into costing new grant applications and manage study budgets.  

What education/qualifications do you have?

I started work straight from leaving school as an apprentice, completing NVQ’s level 2 and 3.

What skills or attributes are most valuable in your role?

I think some of the skills/attributes required to work in research are flexibility (we all know research is fast paced and things change quickly) and being approachable (don’t be afraid to put your ideas across). The experience you gain over the years is invaluable. Team work is so important. Not only can you learn from your team and those around you, but you are all there to ensure the smooth running of the studies together.  

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in trial management?

It’s a great career. I would say starting as a Clinical Trials Assistant gives you a good grounding to the basics. Although there is a lot to learn, starting in this role you will always have someone senior to gain experience from and to provide that mentoring. Although I have been in my current role and working within trial management for so long, there is always something new to learn. I think its one of those jobs in which you will never know everything!