SDN Angel
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jun 3, 2001
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All right SDNers, help me out here. I have a good basic science research background and little clinical experience. Would clinical research help as far as patient contact/clinical experience goes? Do you get much contact with patients? Can anyone share their experiences?

I would probably prefer this to volunteering in a hospital somewhere because it seems like many times with volunteering, you don't get much interaction with patients. If there are other suggestions besides clinical research, they're welcomed!

Art Vandalay

10+ Year Member
Jun 22, 2004
My clinical research experiences have been so so... I spent most of my time analyzing data. Hospital volunteering allows you to see patients.

Shadowing a physician is a good way. Admissions people seem to like like that. I get asked about it... and unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to.


10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 13, 2005
The Sunless Lands
I currently work in clinical research and I get no patient contact. If you're looking for work with patients, physician shadowing or interning with one is probably the best way to go.

Then again, I work in HIV/AIDS so they'd be really wary of letting someone who's not at least an RN or lab tech work with the patients. I've heard of other types of clinical research that deals more with interviewing where students can be trained to interact with the patients. Look around and ask.


Resident Objectivist
15+ Year Member
Jan 29, 2001
Fellow [Any Field]
It is really tough to get patient contact doing clinical research when you are not a member of the medical community. The most you could really hope for is to ask survey questions; procedures require special training and many places are not apt to train someone not already in health care; too costly and time consuming, especially for someone who isn't looking to stay there for an extended period of time. I'm sure you could find somethiing, but there are better ways to obtain patient contact.


patent pending
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jul 1, 2004
Watertown, MA
Resident [Any Field]
wow, my experience doing clinical research is very different from the above posters. i am a study coordinator in the outpatient psychiatry department of a children's hospital. I do my fair share of irb submissions, paper work for the sponsor, grant writing, data entry and analysis and record review, none of which involve patient contact. However, I am also actively and essentially involved in all study visits. This means I do all vital signs, adminster ecg's, take patients to the phlebotomy lab and contact a semi-structured diagnostic interview that goes through all possible psychiatric diagnoses. i interview the parent and child separately which takes a total of 2+ hours and involves asking very personal questions and taking a thorough history. Then, i review and score the interview and present my findings to my pi. i also administer many other questionairres. I had to do quite a bit of training to be able to do all this but the training was part of my job. The job required a 2 year full-time committment and we are a small research group so these may be two reasons why I have had a lot more "hands-on" experience. Oh, I also get to observe the PI conduct a full physical exam and evaluation so there is a little shadowing built in. Often times, the patients assume I am a doctor or nurse and are surprised when I tell them I am not. I love this job. I'm sure there are others like this out there if you look.