Celebrating the faces behind our women’s health research

When Jacqueline Benton graduated from North Carolina’s Meredith College in 2018 she knew she wanted to work in the medical field and she knew that she wanted to help women. But the details were still a little fuzzy.

Then she saw a job posting at Health Decisions for a Clinical Trail Associate (CTA) on LinkedIn, and she knew it was the right fit. “It was a way to bring all of my education and passions together in one career program,” she says. Benton was drawn to HD’s commitment to supporting women in clinical research, as well as the opportunity to build a career in the healthcare industry. “I was really drawn to the work.”

In her first week, Benton received training on the different clinical study types, and how they connect and evolve. By the second week she was already on the job, sitting in on meetings, taking notes, and performing tasks on her assigned studies under the guidance of a mentor. “The training is continuous, but I started doing tasks right away,” she says.

That early immersion into clinical research helped her gain confidence on the job, and to see how the work she would be doing contributes to the health and safety of the patients and the progress of the trials. “It was a little scary at first, but everyone has been so helpful,” she says. She was promoted from CTA to Associate Study Manager (ASM) in April, 2019.

An ASM is responsible for feasibility and study start-up with clinical sites and executes and maintains documentation for clinical studies in compliance with applicable local regulatory requirements and ICH guidelines.

Many paths forward

“The ASM position lays the foundation for a number of careers in clinical research,” says Josh King, clinical trial lead at Health Decisions. King began his career at Health Decisions 14 years ago, and in that time he’s advanced from entry-level, through Clinical Research Associate roles, advancing to a Senior CRA, and now Clinical Trial Lead. “There are many growth opportunities in this space.”

He notes that the size, culture and values at Health Decisions are especially appealing to those new to clinical research because they get to handle more tasks and can see a clear path forward to where their career could take them. “You aren’t just shipping documents and taking minutes,” he says. Clinical Leads at HD make a point of giving junior staff opportunities to visit trial sites where they contribute to a broad spectrum of indications that disproportionately affect women. “Women’s health is our focus, so there are a lot of exciting studies to work on,” he says.

“ASMs are paired with CTLs so they can learn more about the clinical research process under the guidance of someone more senior,” King says. “And if they ever have questions, I’m always here to walk them through it.”

Those experiences have gotten Benton excited about the future, and she hopes to one day become a Clinical Research Associate and then a Project Manager. “All of our PMs are amazing, and what they do is really inspiring,” she says. “I’d love to follow that path.”

Interested in a career in clinical trials and women’s health? Check out open positions at Health Decisions.