Combining work with online study
Angela Niven works as a Clinical Trial Administrator in the University's Centre for Reproductive Health and has just completed the second year of an online masters degree in Public Health.
My background is scientific: I spent eight years as a Biomedical Scientist in the Royal Infirmary’s Haematology department, followed by nineteen years as a Forensic Biologist in Police Scotland, and two years as an analyst/researcher. I loved the science involved in these jobs but, as time progressed, I realised I was increasingly keen to move back to a health-based job. When the post of Clinical Trial Administrator was advertised I recognised that this was my chance to make a ‘sideways move’ and work in a clinical-based area, whilst utilising my analytical skills.
My current role is a Clinical Trial Administrator for the QUIDS study, based at the Centre for Reproductive Health at the Little France campus. I started in January 2016 and there have been few dull moments. The study acronym ‘QUIDS’ stands for Quantitative Fibronectin to help decision making in women with symptoms of preterm labour, fibronectin being a protein produced by the baby during pregnancy. One of my main responsibilities is to steer new centres through start-up procedures, providing support for staff in each study centre and being the main point of contact for collaborators, colleagues and health professionals. There is a lot of paperwork to handle, dealing with site files and study literature for the teams involved in the trial, and entering data collected.
Being new to research, I was keen to gain a postgraduate qualification through the University and have now completed my second year of the online Masters in Public Health course (part-time). Being an online student (a mature one at that!) offers great flexibility. I study in the evenings and weekends which fits around work and family. The course is really interesting, and my fellow students are located around the world and come from several different backgrounds. This adds a fascinating aspect to the course, especially as modules are often taught in a global context.
It has been many years since I completed my undergraduate degree and returning to study has improved my confidence and assured me that my grey matter still functions. And in Dr Sarah Stock, I am fortunate to have a very supportive Chief Investigator.
Something I know...
People think that being an administrator means typing in an office, but working on a clinical trial in reproductive health means I need to know about biology (women’s reproductive health), technology (electronic database), Research Government Framework (e.g. good clinical practice), and legal issues (e.g. General Data Protection) – all combined with a good portion of common sense.