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Deevina Arasaratnam, Study Coordinator Intern during COVID-19

During 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.

After a period of adaptation, the SKILLED clinical trials internship program continued during the year, resulting in participants securing ongoing roles in clinical trials units.  

There are many different avenues for career development in clinical trials.  Deevina Arasaratnam is a post-doc who joined Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre this year as a Study Coordinator.

Deevina was successful in gaining a place in the SKILLED 2020 cancer clinical trial internship program which provides a paid 10-month opportunity to develop core clinical trial knowledge and skills. Before joining the program, she had completed a post-doctoral fellowship at McGill University in Quebec, Canada, and was at a crossroads of continuing a career in academia or making a move to industry. She was drawn to the SKILLED program because it offered the option of combining scientific research and clinical involvement.

We asked Deevina what she gained from being involved in the program

The SKILLED program has taught me to utilise my scientific knowledge and skills to bridge the gap between basic laboratory research and translational medicine. While we are constantly evolving our knowledge about the biology of health and illness, it is equally important that we learn how to harness these scientific advances in clinical settings.

The VCCC SKILLED program is one of only a handful of programs that support young researchers who are considering a change in their career. It not only provides relevant clinical training and industry experience but also has a focus on transferable skills such as critical thinking, logical deduction, and data documentation, ensuring a highly skilled workforce in clinical trials. I think it is a fantastic way of generating high-quality clinical trials that can inform us of the best practices for improving patient outcomes.

What are you doing now, and how has the internship contributed to that?

I am currently finishing up my internship and am involved in all aspects of running a trial. This includes trial set-up, screening and enrolling patients, assisting with patient care during treatment, and documenting clinical data. The on-the-job training allowed me to gain the skills, knowledge, and certification to respond better to the demands of my job as a study coordinator intern.

What would you say to someone who might be considering applying for an internship?

If you are looking to see what else is available outside of academic research but want to remain in a career that makes use of your scientific knowledge, then this program is worth applying for. The internship offers an invaluable opportunity for researchers to experience various aspects of clinical trials and fast-track their way into clinical roles.

Acknowledgement

The SKILLED Clinical Trials Internships program is part of the MTPConnect Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry (REDI) initiative funded through the Australian Government's Medical Research Future Fund. 

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