Leslie Williams: Clinical Trials Research Nurse

Name: Leslie Williams

Age: 32

Born: Ontario

Profession: Clinical Trials Research Nurse

We all know that scientists do a lot of research in the lab to come up with new drugs and treatments for diseases, and we know that doctors use these treatments to treat patients. But what happens in between? Clinical trials! These trials provide evidence that the new drugs are safe and work as well in actual humans as they do in the lab. A Clinical Trials Research Nurse tells us about her cool role in bringing science to patients.

What is a Nurse?

A nurse is responsible for the treatment, safety, and recovery of people who are ill, injured or dying, Nurses help individuals, families and communities to achieve positive health outcomes through health promotion, education and scientific research, as well as perform a wide range of non-clinical functions necessary to the delivery of healthcare.

What is a typical day as a Nurse?

As a clinical trials research nurse, I am responsible for preparing and submitting scientific research study protocols for initial approval, annual renewal and termination by UHN Research Ethics Board or Ontario Cancer Research Ethics Board. I also devise financial budgets for study funding and prepare study regulatory documents for industry and non-industry study audits. Moreover, I determine study subject eligibility for study inclusion and act as a liaison between the study sponsor and principal investigator to maintain integrity of the study. On the clinical side, I take blood samples through central and peripherallines for PK (pharmacokinetics) analysis; administer intravenous and oral medications, conduct physical examinations and provide psychosocial support to patients participating in clinical research studies.

Did you always want to be a Nurse?

Honestly, no. I initially wanted to be a doctor, as it was the norm for people obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree. However, the competition of getting into medical school caused me to re-evaluate what I was trying to accomplish in my career and that was to combine scientific research with creating positive health outcomes for impoverished individuals and families.

What made you decide to pursue a Ph.D. degree in this field?

My passion for helping individuals with health illnesses related to poverty, and my desire to effect change for families and communities, led me to pursue a career in nursing and subsequently pursue a PhD in nursing with an emphasis on global health.

What courses in university prepared you for this field?

I took a number of courses related to poverty and health; public and global health, pathophysiology, pharmacology and anatomy/physiology.

Where did you go to university?

McMaster University and the University of Toronto

How did you decide where to go?

McMaster has an excellent nursing school that uses a problem based learning approach, which helps to foster critical thinking and problem solving as we have to do in "real world" scenarios.

Was there extra training required for this career after you finished university?

As a clinical trials nurse, there is no formal extra training. However, because of the ethical aspect to clinical trials, I completed the following certificates:

-Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Tri-council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research involving Human Subject.

-National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group, Good Clinical Practice

-National Cancer Institute, Human Participant Protections Education for Research Teams

What is the coolest part of your job?

Seeing a patient's face when you tell them that the clinical trial is working in managing their disease.

What's the worst part of your job?

Telling a patient there is no additional medical treatment available and that their disease is terminal.

Ooooops! Everyone makes mistakes so what was the dumbest thing you've ever done at work?

Almost giving the wrong medication to a patient

Any advice that you would give others seeking a similar career?

Work on your organizational, critical thinking, problem solving and muti-tasking skills

What is a typical salary range for a Nurse?


What are some great web links or references for someone interesting in reading up more about this career?

Society of Clinical Research Associateshttp://www.socra.org/

What's your motto?

The universe conspires in your favor to help you achieve your deepest desires

What music do you have in your CD player right?

Latin Jazz

What country would you most like to visit?


What's your favorite holiday?


What's the all-time best movie?

The Godfather, part 2


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