I am a Study Associate. I know what this means, but do you?
At KFI, Study Associates oversee the handling and processing of study documents – we are the people one runs to when they need a new record, collection tube, or label. Other responsibilities of Study Associates include (but are most definitely not limited to): ensuring the accuracy and completion of paperwork; addressing errors contemporaneously; creating forms that are accurate, according to protocol, and appropriate; entering raw data; creating tabulated data; maintaining raw data files; ordering veterinary consumables and printing labels! Phew, I do all of that on a daily basis! This is why our desks always look like a tornado hit them, though to us it’s beautiful organized chaos.
Some days our desks are flooded with tubes that need to be labeled for pharmacokinetic (PK) studies, hematology, clinical chemistry, coagulation, urine collection – or heck, even all of it – for just one day. I know what you’re thinking; “Labelling tubes, that sounds easy. I wish that was my job.” The truth is, sometimes it is easy but other times it is very stressful. All studies are different; GLP vs. non-GLP, the number of animals included, and what type of study it is; these all impact the amount of consumables and paperwork required. For example, PK studies require a lot of tubes with many different time points.
Other studies may need very specific personal protective equipment (PPE) or other unique supplies that need to be ordered. Having past experience as an animal care attendant and a veterinary assistant helps me understand what consumables need to be ordered for certain procedures. KFI has four Study Directors that each have their own way of doing things when it comes to studies. We have several studies running at any given time, so you can see why this can be challenging and why we have become great at multitasking.
Most of the back office staff don’t see a protocol before it is signed, but we have already hit the ground running; preparing the study binders, formatting records and excel spreadsheets, allocating animals. Once the study is underway, data starts pouring in; we transcribe all raw data to an electronic database, which is then tabulated for further analysis and statistical evaluation. When the in-life portion of the study is over for those working with the animals, there is still months of work before the study is complete for the Study Associate. All of the raw data entry is then merged, locked and QC’d which takes multiple people to complete and many, many hours. Any and all paperwork from the study needs to be scanned and counted for the raw data file. When the final study report is signed then the study is complete and our job is over!
Though the job may be challenging or frustrating from time to time, it is a position that keeps you on your toes and teaches you something new every day. It truly does take an entire team from animal care to Study Directors and everyone in between to complete a study. Together we have been very successful and will continue to be well into the future.
Ashley Robathan has been working at KFI for 2 and a half years. After graduating from Durham College as a Veterinary Assistant in 2013 she then worked in a veterinary emergency clinic gaining experience in the veterinary industry. She is now a proud fur mother to her 14 year old Jack Russell Terrier, Chance, and her one year old Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Rayna.