Anyone who has been in a position with a traveling job, a.k.a. a “road warrior”, will tell you that it is not easy. In the world of clinical research, monitor turnover is high, as discussed in this previous blog.
There are many great benefits to a career in clinical research, specifically as a CRA. We are able to be involved with a variety of clinical trials, and learn about different technologies, body systems, and diseases. Most importantly, we work “behind the scenes” as a part of bringing these latest advances and technologies to the patients who need these the most. Each day brings a new set of challenges and duties, in dealing with the issues involved with multiple studies and sites; this diversity allows even the seasoned CRA to use critical thinking skills on a daily basis.
But for all of the aforementioned positive aspects to life as a CRA, to be involved with clinical trials, we must be the “eyes and ears” of the sponsor, performing on-site monitoring. This means being away from our friends, spouses, children- both two and four-legged!- for periods of time on a regular basis. Depending on the monitor’s schedule, this could lead to quick burn-out, if the CRA cannot effectively manage their work/life balance. This, of course, depends a lot on the particular studies the monitor is working on, and the stage of each study; however, to a certain extent the monitor does have control of their schedules.
Many of us here at IMARC have spouses at home, as well as children. It is never easy to leave our loved ones, but with the right mindset, it is possible to achieve work/life balance.
Some tips to try include:
- Making the most of your travel perks:
- Collecting airline miles, hotel point, and free car rentals use these miles for your personal travel with friends and family!
- Whenever possible, book your own or choose your own travel options that are the most convenient to you. Do you like early morning flights so you don’t have to fly in the night before? Book it! Do you like the leisure of spending the night before a visit in the hotel, where you can get a good night of sleep before tackling your visit in the morning? Book it! Do you like the freedom of driving yourself around cities rather than taking a cab everywhere? Do it! The bottom line is that whenever possible (and of course within the travel policy!), make your travels as easy on yourself as possible.
- Use your time traveling to your advantage:
- Many of us have demanding lives at home (sometimes it seems even more so than at work!)- as hard as it may be sometimes, try to enjoy these small breaks from friends and family and focus on yourself. We always strive to be as efficient as possible in our travels, and many of us spend every minute on the plane reading a protocol, writing a report, etc. Outside of travelling, enjoy some downtime!
- As our president Sandy notes- she would always schedule hair appointments when traveling, as her home life was too busy to squeeze these in normally!
- Try to take advantage of a flexible schedule whenever possible. If you’ve put in many hours that week already, may try to quit working a little early on Friday. Or, try working from home one day if you’ve been out of town a lot recently. However you can manage it, use your schedule to your advantage to balance your home life while still maintaining timely and quality work.
- Remember, absence does make the heart grow fonder. Make the time you spend with your loved ones while you are at home “quality” time and try not to worry too much about the “quantity” of time you miss when you are away.
- Last but not least, remind yourself that your work as a traveling CRA is important in so many aspects, and the patients receiving that investigational drug or device are at the top of that list.
Let us know if you have any additional tips that helps with your work/life balance.