This interview is the second part in an ongoing series featuring our amazing clinical staff members — sharing with you the work they do for Wake Research’s site network, and why they chose a career in clinical research.
Breanna Grijalva, Patient Recruiter, Pharmacology Research Institute
What is your role at Wake Research?
I am a patient recruiter. My job is to reach out to patients who have expressed interest in participating in a clinical trial. I discuss the study with patients to see if they could be a good candidate before bringing them in for an appointment. I also answer any questions a patient may have to make them feel comfortable in making an appointment.
What do you like about your job?
Every day I learn something new about all the work that goes into the research process. There are a multitude of specialized teams working with Sponsors toward the common goal of developing new, life-changing medications for people who have not found a suitable treatment for their health problems.
How did you get into clinical research?
I started my career as a research assistant in an academic, social psychology lab. This experience piqued my interest in research. I pursued clinical research because I wanted to take part in a critical step in the research process toward the development of better treatment options for patients.
Why do you think clinical trials are important?
Without clinical trials, there would be no scientific progress for better treatment options. Without progress, people would be limited in finding a treatment that works for them, would go without treatment, and may have trouble learning to cope with their health issues.
What would you say to encourage more people to participate in clinical trials?
Every medication that is available to you today is available because people like you have volunteered for clinical trials.
What would you tell patients who are concerned about the safety of trials?
Ask questions! There are many misconceptions about clinical trials and the best thing to do is to get information from a clinical professional in the field. Clinical trials have many laws and regulations that must be strictly followed to ensure patient safety. There are also many objective bodies that check to make sure that those laws and regulations are adhered to.
How would you describe balancing the risks and benefits of participating in clinical trials?
There is a possibility of taking a placebo when doing a clinical trial. Your open communication with the clinical staff will ensure that you are receiving the most benefits from your experience in clinical trials. The staff will continue to monitor you throughout the trial and make your health and safety the first priority.
What would you like people who are interested in clinical research to know?
If you are interested, make an appointment! The first appointment is a consultation with clinical staff who will collaborate with you to determine if participating in a clinical trial is right for you.
What do you think the benefits are to research studies?
Patients get highly personalized care from our attentive clinical staff. They will help you navigate the process and you may learn something new about what treatments work for you. In addition, you will be contributing directly to the development of medication that can help many other people, like yourself, in the future.
Do you have any memorable stories that stand out as an example of the value of clinical research?
I talk to many patients on the phone every day who are wary of participating in clinical trials. However, after their first appointment consulting with the study coordinator, almost every one of those patients leaves feeling enthusiastic about participating. This is truly a testament to how getting detailed information about the clinical trial and having open communication with clinical staff leads to excitement about contributing to research progress.