The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant disruption to the clinical research industry. More safety precautions and standard checks have emerged for clinical trials. As a result, there’s been a rising demand for professionals who can safeguard the integrity of clinical data. To thrive in clinical research, it’s become critical to learn clinical data management.
Clinical data management (CDM) has long enjoyed high demand in the job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health services managers are expected to see 32 percent occupational growth by 2029. This is much faster than the average growth rate across the job board.
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If you want to be part of this growth and learn about clinical data management, you have come to the right place. In this guide, we have rounded up all the best resources out there to help you become an expert in clinical data management.
What Is Clinical Data Management?
Clinical data management is both a career and a critical step in the clinical research process. Clinical data managers use statistics generated from clinical research trials to determine the effectiveness of the trials. These trials are conducted to test new drugs, vaccines, or treatments designed to prevent diseases and other medical conditions.
In clinical data management, managers oversee the trial process to ensure research data is collected securely, accurately, and reported clearly. This is crucial to the clinical research process as it prevents results from being muddied or lost.
What Is Clinical Data Management Used For?
Below are some of the most common uses of clinical data management.
- Generating data from clinical trials. Many research organizations use clinical data management systems to help generate data from their clinical trials. Managers use data analysis tools to determine data quality and data validation.
- Determining how studies are conducted and managed. One of the many uses of CDM is helping determine how studies are conducted and managed. Since clinical data managers study data and perform data entry, they also play a part in determining how to go about the data gathering.
- Protecting public health. Clinical research trials play an important role in prescription drug development. By monitoring data and studies, clinical data managers prevent poor quality products from being sold.
- Ensuring quality products. Since clinical research trials test different types of treatments, it makes sense to employ CDM to ensure product quality. By using statistics and data from these studies, clinical data managers help researchers determine if their product is of good or bad quality.
Clinical Data Management Skills
There are many clinical skills you need to work in clinical data management. Below are the top three skills.
Data and Database Management
If you are just beginning to learn about this field, you are probably wondering what data analysis is. Taking some time to learn all about data and database management is a fantastic first step in mastering clinical data management.
Since CDM is used for monitoring trials and gathering and presenting data, it is important to learn all about data and database management. These skills can be learned through courses or video tutorials.
CDM uses statistics from clinical research trials to determine product or treatment effectiveness and quality. Understanding statistics is important to this process. One of the easiest ways to learn statistics is to enroll in an online community college course. Most colleges offer a statistics course, but there are also plenty of online courses available.
While you won’t exactly be conducting the clinical studies, clinical research managers do help in the process of determining how studies are run. This means you will need to have at least a bit of a handle on basic research skills.
There are many ways to attain research skills. You could learn through experience and conduct your own research, or you can enroll in a class or training session. Either way, these are skills that take little time to learn and yield great benefits.
Learning Clinical Data Management
Anyone who wants to learn clinical data management certainly can. While it may be a challenging field to go into, the payoff is worth the effort spent studying. There are many ways to learn CDM.
While many opt for a college degree, there are other ways to do so. From online courses and books to websites full of helpful tips and tricks, there are plenty of resources available to help you learn CDM.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Clinical Data Management?
In most cases, you will have to earn a bachelor’s degree to work as a clinical data manager. This takes most people around four years to complete. Many go further to pursue a graduate degree and take six or more years to learn all they can about CDM.
If a bachelor’s or master’s degree isn’t for you, don’t fret. CDM can be learned in whatever means and timeframe you set for yourself. This doesn’t mean you will become an expert in a week. However, you can learn just as quickly as you would in a bachelor’s degree program.
Then again, unless you know your prospective role doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree, it would be smart to earn one to improve your employability.
How to Learn Clinical Data Management: Step-by-Step
Regardless of the path you end up taking to learn CDM, these five steps can help you along the way. Whether you follow these steps exactly or modify them to better fit your goals, you will surely find some use in them.
- Take related classes in high school. Taking classes in high school that are related to CDM is a huge first step. Not everyone is lucky enough to figure out what they want to do with their lives in high school. If you are, we recommend taking medical, research, and statistics courses before graduating.
- Enroll in classes or degree programs. Whether you choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree or not, you will need to enroll in some CDM classes. There are many options for classes and bachelor’s degree programs you can enroll in.
- Read books. Reading CDM books is especially useful for those who are trying to avoid going to college. These books often provide a college class experience without the crazy tuition cost and all the deadlines.
- Study on your own. Take some time to truly study everything you have learned before going any further in this career. Make flashcards on Quizlet, reread books, and retake courses if possible. Make sure you actually have become an expert in the field.
- Apply for internships. Once you are confident in your skills as a clinical data manager, start applying for internships. These programs are a great way to gain hands-on experience before being thrust into the workforce. But if you are confident enough without it, start applying for your dream jobs.
The Best Clinical Data Management Courses and Training
There are hundreds of clinical data management courses available in in-person and online formats. Some of them are even free. While we don’t have every single course in the world listed below, we have rounded up our favorites for you to browse through.
Best In-Person Clinical Data Management Classes
For those who learn best with a strict schedule and a more engaged environment, in-person classes may be best. These are a couple of our favorite in-person CDM courses.
Clinical Data Management
- Provider: UCSC Silicon Valley Extension – Santa Clara, CA
- Duration: One month
- Prerequisites: None
The University of California Silicon Valley Extension offers a CDM course that takes around one month to complete. This course is offered as part of a certificate program but can be taken on its own. You will learn the basics of CDM, including electronic data capture (EDC) and FDA/ICH guidelines.
Clinical Data Management Classroom Training
- Provider: Sulekha, various locations
- Cost: Dependent upon location
- Prerequisites: None
Sulekha offers this CDM training program at a variety of locations, making it easily accessible all over the United States and Canada. This course is offered both in-person and online with a live instructor. Students earn a certificate upon completion of the program.
The Best Online Clinical Data Management Courses
For those who want to learn at their own pace and on their own time, online courses can be an awesome resource. These are two of our favorite online CDM courses.
Clinical Data Management On-Boarding Program
- Provider: Barnett International
- Schedule: March 10, 2021 – May 12, 2021 (10 weeks)
- Cost: $1,795
- Prerequisites: None
Barnett International offers a totally online CDM course for anyone interested in learning CDM at the comfort of their home. While this course is often paid for by companies to help their employees learn the basics, it can be taken by anyone. The course lasts 10 weeks and costs $1,795. It could go to as high as $1,995 if you do not enroll in advance.
Clinical Data Management Online Course
- Provider: Udemy
- Duration: 2 hours
- Cost: $99.99
- Prerequisites: None
Udemy is a favorite among individuals who learn from home. Though Udemy offers dozens of CDM courses, this one is our favorite. It covers enough material to take you from a beginner to an intermediate level in just two hours of on-demand video.
Best Free Clinical Data Management Courses
Who doesn’t love a good free course? We certainly do, and these two are our favorite free clinical data management courses available.
Data Management for Clinical Research
- Provider: Coursera
- Duration: 17 hours
- Cost: Free
- Prerequisites: None
Coursera is arguably the best resource for finding free online courses, so it is no surprise to find this gem is on the website. This course is offered by Vanderbilt University and takes approximately 17 hours to complete. Covering all the basics of CDM, this is a course you won’t want to miss out on.
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Design and Interpretation of Clinical Trials
- Provider: Coursera
- Duration: 12 hours
- Cost: Free
- Prerequisites: None
While this course isn’t technically a CDM course, it is extremely useful for anyone hoping to become a clinical data manager. This course takes roughly 12 hours to complete and teaches you how to design and interpret clinical trials. This is important as you will have a say in how trials are run.
Best Clinical Data Management Books
So many of our learning resources are accessible online, which is fantastic. That’s until your eyes start to hurt from staring at a computer screen all day.
To give your eyes a break from the glare, here’s a list of the best clinical data management books. Pick these up when you can’t bear to look at the computer any longer.
Practical Guide to Clinical Data Management, Susanne Prokscha
Susanne Prokscha’s Practical Guide to Clinical Data Management is one of the most popular books on the subject. This book is over 14 years old and is regularly updated to match current trends, making it truly an “oldie but a goodie.”
The Fundamentals of Clinical Data Management, Dr. S Fernandez
This book is often required reading for college and university students as Dr. S Fernandez is an expert in CDM. With all the information about clinical information flow, data archiving, and so much more, you will definitely want to read this book.
A Practical Guide to Managing Clinical Trials, JoAnn Pfeiffer and Cris Wells
This informative guide is for those who learn best via step-by-step guides. Taking the reader through the individual steps needed to practice CDM, this book is the equivalent of taking a class.
Clinical Data Management Certifications
There are many benefits to earning a professional certificate in clinical data management. First, it proves that you have the essential CDM skills. Second, it proves that you’re determined to know as much as you can about the field. Take your pick from the certifications below and become a full-fledged clinical data manager.
Professional Certificate in Clinical Data Management
DNASYS offers this highly-respected certification for anyone looking to prove their CDM skills to future employers. Through DNASYS, you can enroll in the training course needed to earn your certification and pay for the certification exam at the same time.
This training course offers lifetime access to the learning materials, meaning you can always refer back to them if needed. After approximately 40 to 50 hours of studying, you will be ready to take the certification exam and earn your professional CDM certification.
For a broader skillset, consider earning the Certificate in Clinical Research Management offered by Sollers College. Split into three sections, this is a surefire way to prove that you have a holistic understanding of clinical research management.
This certificate training covers clinical research, clinical data management, and oracle clinical trial education. By the end of it, you will be holding a certificate that proves your qualifications as clinical research or data manager.
Best Online Clinical Data Management Resources
Can’t get enough CDM learning material? Neither can we. These are our favorite online resources. Great for both beginners and experts, you can never go wrong with a little extra learning.
You have likely heard of Mayo Clinic, especially if you’re one to look up your symptoms on the Internet when you feel ill. Between WebMD and Mayo Clinic, we have all likely thought we were dying once or twice. But did you know Mayo Clinic offers a lot of useful information about CDM? Its website provides a plethora of articles, community engagement activities, and even education opportunities surrounding the world of healthcare and clinical research.
Global Health Training Centre
The Global Health Training Centre is a great place to find CDM courses and related blog posts. Whether you want to take a quick course or simply brush up on your knowledge, this is the place to go. With each available course lasting around 30 to 40 minutes and ending with a certificate of completion, you can’t go wrong with this resource.
Should You Study Clinical Data Management?
Do you aspire to a career in clinical data management or any related healthcare field? If so, then we definitely think you should study clinical data management.
Clinical data management is a field that is in extremely high demand, making employment easy. In addition, it has become easier to learn CDM. Whether you choose to go to college or study on your own, this is one subject that is definitely worth learning.
Clinical Data Management FAQ
The job prospects for clinical data management are promising. The field is expected to generate over 100,000 jobs in the next 10 years. Behind this growth is the increasing need to develop new drugs, vaccines, and treatments for both chronic and infectious diseases.
Clinical data managers earn an average salary of $77,213 per year. This may increase depending on their cash bonus and profit shares. Entry-level managers earn over $50,000 per year while senior-level managers make a little over $100,000.
Clinical data managers protect the integrity, accuracy, and quality of clinical data. They are critical to ensuring the success of clinical research trials and drug development.
A bachelor’s degree in health administration, statistics, or related field is generally preferred for those eyeing a clinical data manager role. Some even pursue a master’s degree in public health administration to increase their employability.
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