5 Essential Items for a Clinical Research Associate’s Work Bag

by | Oct 12, 2021 | Clinical Research Associates, Tips for Research Professionals | 0 comments

Have you found yourself at a site visit, digging through all of the important things in your work bag but not able to find the one thing that you really need? We’ve been there.

Do you spend time preparing and organizing your work bag before traveling to various trial sites, and along the way, your orderly bag becomes a muddled mess? (And then you do it all over again for your next round of visits?) We’ve done that, too.

Between the travel, the management of multiple clinical trials, and the intense workload, CRAs consistently have a lot on their plate.

Creating efficiencies in even small things, like the clinical research tools in your work bag, will save you time and increase your effectiveness.

To help you get started, we created this list of essential items every CRA needs in their work bag.

Or just download the checklist here

1. CRA Work Bag Essential #1: Trial Protocol

Grab a copy of your trial protocol and/or have an electronic copy of the protocol saved on your laptop desktop for easy reference. As a bonus, ask your team for a mini protocol that is easier and more compact to carry in your work bag.

Then, take it one step further and save an electronic copy of all key trial documents to a folder on your desktop so that you can quickly search for specific information or key terms. These documents may include:

  • Case Report Form Guidelines,
  • Monitoring Plan,
  • Laboratory Manual,
  • Site Initiation Visit Slides, and
  • Any additional important documents.

2. CRA Work Bag Essential #2: Company Laptop and Power Charger

Don’t forget the company laptop and power charger! It’s a given but you’d be surprised how many power chargers are left behind!

A pro tip is to have instructions for how to remotely access your company email. If your computer ever becomes unusable during a visit, you can ask the site to use their computer to login and check your company email and notify your manager.

As long as you’re writing important notes, you may consider adding a list of all study URLs just in case you need to use the site’s computer and do not have access to your bookmarked links.

If you forget your laptop charger, don’t fret (this happens ALL the time!) Just ask the site or the hotel where you are staying if they have a spare or purchase one from a local store.

3. CRA Work Bag Essential #3: Snacks and/or Change for the Vending Machine

Always keep a variety of snacks in your bag in case you cannot stop for a break while monitoring. Also, you may want to keep at least $5 in quarters and $10 in singles for vending machine use.

In addition, if you keep at least $20 cash in your bag or wallet, you can use it to pay for parking in case you can’t pay with a credit card.

4. CRA Work Bag Essential #4: Site Monitoring Folder

A site monitoring folder should always include clinical research resources like the last monitoring visit report and/or follow-up letter. These documents will enable you to see which action items need to be closed and any other items the study team may have sent you for follow-up with the site.

For example, you may need to look into data management queries or check to see if medical records have been received for a previously reported Serious Adverse Event.

Keeping these items in a site-specific folder and/or flagged in your email is an easy way to quickly reference and address it during your visit!

5. CRA Work Bag Essential #5: ClinEssentials™ Padfolio

Being organized at site visits is key and the ClinEssentials™ Padfolio makes it easy to stay organized and efficient while on site. The Padfolio includes:

Do you have any great clinical research solutions to share with other Clinical Research Professionals? Please comment below – we may add it to a future list of CRA monitoring tools!


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