Nancy Tang is a clinical research coordinator and certified phlebotomist at the CTRI. She works closely with investigators, physicians, nurses, and patients to keep clinical trials running smoothly.
What do you do as a clinical trial coordinator?
Every day changes,” said Tang. When investigators want to test a new drug or device, Tang is there to monitor patient vital signs through methods such as EKGs and blood pressure tests. Tang can also take blood samples and administer surveys to track patient progress and behaviors.
The CTRI clinical research coordinators work on trials across UC San Diego, including trials at the Moores Cancer Center, Thornton Hospital, and VA San Diego Healthcare System. A recent trial took Tang to Rady Children’s Hospital, where she met with parents to see if their children could participate in a clinical trial of understudied pain relievers and antibiotics.
The coordinator team also handles Institutional Review Board, Investigational New Drug, and Investigational New Device requests on behalf of investigators.
What is the most challenging part of being a clinical research coordinator?
During the course of a clinical trial, Tang gets to know patients with debilitating conditions. She cares about her patients and said it can be challenging to separate her work from her personal life. “You have such a close relationship with all the patients that sometimes it affects your day,” Tang said.
Another challenge is the quick transition from one trial to the next. Tang learns new protocols for a wide range of clinical trials. “I’m primarily working with kids who are very sick, and in the past I worked with women. That’s a very different transition,” said Tang.
How is working with kids different?
“You have to be more sensitive and more patient,” said Tang. Many of the children she works with are experiencing emergencies such as heart failure or bacterial infections due to transplant. Tang said parents, nurses, and physicians tend to ask more questions before agreeing to place these children in clinical trials.
“You also need to make sure you can explain in words kids can understand,” said Tang. For example, Tang uses the phrase “research study” when introducing children to the concept of a clinical trial. “They don’t know the difference between clinical and translational,” said Tang.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
“Getting feedback from your patients and also from your PIs saying that you’re doing a good job. The patients tell you that you actually make a difference,” Tang said.
Tang has also enjoyed her recent collaboration with nurses at Rady Children’s Hospital. “Their team is very knowledgeable,” she said.
What is the clinical research coordinator team like?
“We’re a great team,” said Tang. The clinical research coordinators take time to learn about each other’s studies and ask each other questions. “That makes a big difference because it makes the working environment a lot better, and then it also makes the studies stronger too.”
What are your favorite things to do with your free time?
“I love salsa dancing. I love going hiking and being outdoors with my dog,” said Tang. “I’m kind of like a foodie. I love eating. I go to a new place every week.”
The CTRI invites you to learn how CTRI Clinical Research Coordinators can help you and request services from the team.