In his role as a Trial Manager at the Clinical Trials Unit, Charlie juggles a number of responsibilities in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment:
“There is genuinely no such thing as a ‘typical day’ at the CTU. It’s part of what I love about working here: I’m always doing something different.”
What is your role at the Clinical Trials Unit?
I’m the trial manager in charge of recruitment, participant contact (both the email inbox and the call team), site management, incident reporting, and IMP returns for one of the clinical trials. In my spare time, I’m also the trial manager for the BARACK-D trial and newly appointed chief quizmaster at the CTU.
What is a typical day?
There is genuinely no such thing as a ‘typical day’ at the CTU. It’s part of what I love about the study: I’m always doing something different. Broadly speaking, I work on problem solving the various things that aren’t quite as we’d like them, dealing with queries from the team and external stakeholders, tracking and monitoring staffing levels and key targets (recruitment and number of sites recruited), and ensuring we’re moving as quickly and efficiently as possible.
How long have you worked in the trial team?
I have spent 3 months with my current trial team, but it feels like more and simultaneously less than that. I’ve been in the CTU for 4 years, with the first 2 spent in the trainee trial manager scheme and the second two as a trial manager.
What made you decide to join the team?
Working in primary care gives you the capacity to work on really varied studies. You might start on a big drug trial, then move to a sleep study, and then maybe a vaccine study. The work is varied, interesting, and a great place to learn your trade.
What did you do before?
I really have fallen into this job. When I first moved to Oxford, I worked with children with learning disabilities and autism in schools. I then worked in various social services departments (adoption and then Adult Social Care) before making the jump into clinical trials. I enjoyed working directly with people, but felt that I would be helping the most people I could with working in trials.
What is the most stressful part of the role?
The number of plates I have to spin. Working on a study that has to move as fast as this one does is relatively new to me and there are so many things that need doing. I’m very lucky to work with such an amazing team that can cope with 1) such a busy trial and 2) having me as a trial manager!
What will be your lasting memories of the last two years?
The ceaselessness of it all. We didn’t stop working during any lockdowns. In fact, our workloads increased during the first lockdown. Then, when I went back to the other study I worked on we were having to work out how to deliver a trial based in GP practices when GP practices were not accepting anything but emergencies and then moved to run a lateral flow testing study (the FACTS study). Then, there was PANORAMIC, but it’s been weirdly energising as you’re always doing something new, so at least it doesn’t get boring.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the way the team has pulled together. The volume of work they have got through in the face of IT problems, pressure to recruit quickly so that we can help doctors make decisions that will help patients, and the sheer number of recruited participants has been deeply humbling. I’m immensely proud of every single one of them for maintaining the pace that they did.
What have you learnt from working in the trial team?
Organising people is hard. Making sure that everyone is doing exactly what they need to do, while the priorities keep changing as the needs of the trial and the public change is a hard thing. Having an experienced senior trial manager working on the study pointing me in the right direction has been incredibly helpful and I’ve been lucky to have guidance.
What are you most looking forward to in the future?
Fewer trials but bigger and better trials.