Path to Self-Employment

April 1, 2009
Marissa Shapiro

Applied Clinical Trials

Applied Clinical Trials, Applied Clinical Trials-04-01-2009, Volume 0, Issue 0

A survey says independent contracting is gaining popularity among clinical trials professionals.

While security of employment remains uncertain, it seems clinical trials professionals are becoming more interested in taking control of their own destiny—at least as it applies to their career.

Clinical Trials Professionals on Contract-Based Employment

A recent survey conducted by Red Tree People Ltd. (Cheshire, UK) shows that 60% of clinical research professionals have considered becoming a clinical research contractor at some point in their career, and 44% would actually consider making the move.

As some would simply attribute these survey results to the current economic conditions, respondents noted the most important factors in deciding to become an independent contractor as higher pay and rewards (39%), flexible working (36%), and feeling of independence (20%). None cited the fear of job loss.

"As you might expect this was offset by inhibitions for job security and the retention of company related benefits," Andrew Baillie, director of Red Tree People Ltd., observed when reflecting on the previously mentioned statistics.

Preemptive strikes against the narrowing job market may not be the driver toward independent contract-based employment, but it could possibly be why employees have yet to make the move.

Of those respondents that realized this trend was taking place among their colleagues, they found that a recognition of opportunity (44%) was the primary driver.

Join the club

Following down the path of embracing contract-based employment, PharmaNet (Princeton, NJ) has launched PharmaNet Resource Solutions—a new business entity dedicated to providing industry with "consistent quality-driven flexible resource solutions." The company provides services including on-demand staffing, strategic alliances, functional service staffing, and quality control/study rescue management.

"Historically, [PharmaNet] has made limited use of contractors. The Resource Solutions business is a new service offering to clients, and will also be utilized internally to accommodate rapid swings in resource demands," explained Susan Seroskie, vice president of PharmaNet Resource Solutions.

Similarly, Quanticate (Cambridge, MA) has designed Quanticate People with the intention of placing candidates in roles that they are best fit for rather than any position that is open at the time. These contract-based employees receive payment once the customer compensates the company. If the project calls for it, Quanticate also provides appropriate training for these independent contractors.

Whether this seemingly emerging trend is a byproduct of the unstable economic conditions, or industry is simply taking greater advantage of an underutilized employment infrastructure, its implications will begin to take flight.

"A move towards independent manpower provisioning would serve all parts of the marketplace as the burden of employment would be taken up by individuals. Both pharma and CRO will be able to access the talent pool on demand," noted Baillie.

Cutting losses

Undoubtedly moving from a full-time, or even part-time position to one that is independently contracted would require some sacrifices.

A respondent stated, "The desirability of self employment depends on the level of risk, uncertainty, and stress, and the greater responsibility that the individual can handle, balanced out by greater flexibility and potential earning. Employment gives more human and technological support, including training, structures for personnel development. There are human needs that are met differently by the two options (e.g., comradery, belonging versus independence, etc.)."

It remains to be seen whether the economic standing of the clinical trials outsourcing industry is driving its professionals toward independent employment, or if this trend indicates people are simply moving forward with a career opportunity.

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