Tracey, a Lead Clinical Research Coordinator at Raleigh Neurology, has worked in clinical research for over 4 years and has been a nurse for over 11 years. In her spare time, she enjoys all things food and exercising. Tracey holds a BS in Ceramic and Materials Engineering from Rutgers University and formerly worked as a Process Engineer and Metallurgist for a company that makes airplane and gas turbine engine parts.
What led you to a career in clinical research?
During my career as an engineer, I longed for the opportunity to affect people rather than metal parts. I started taking nursing prerequisite classes at night, while I was working full-time as an engineer. Although I knew I was in a career transition, it often felt physically and mentally exhausting, but I strongly felt called to be a nurse and received my Masters in Nursing from East Carolina University in 2010. After working for 7 years at a medical center in the cardiac intermediate unit, I found myself longing again to do something bigger; something that would affect and help people on a broader scale. This led me to a career in clinical research. I worked at a Site Management Organization in Greenville, NC for 9 months before starting my career at Raleigh Neurology.
Medications change people’s lives every day. The thought that what I’m doing on a daily basis contributes to improving peoples’ quality of life is extremely rewarding. I truly feel my school and career journey has put me exactly where I need to be and molded me into the person and professional that I am extremely proud of today. There is nothing more fulfilling than having a career that you love and that you cannot imagine doing without.
How did you hear about Greater Gift?
I heard about Greater Gift when we began our partnership with them. Raleigh Neurology decided it was an important to celebrate our patients and committed to a partnership with Greater Gift.
When you hear the mission of Greater Gift and the work they do to celebrate clinical trial heroes, while giving back, what comes to mind?
For every informed consent that is signed we present the patient with a Greater Gift certificate. The importance of honoring those who volunteer not only their time but their bodies to advancing science is very important and I couldn’t agree more. It is important to partner with Greater Gift because it should be everyone’s mission to increase access and participation in research.
What are some reactions when people know that a potentially life-enhancing gift has been made in their honor?
Most people feel like they are doing something that is very beneficial by helping someone less fortunate. The fact that there may not be a guaranteed benefit for themselves is mitigated by the knowledge that there is a guaranteed benefit for someone else. We provide the certificates as a thank you for our patients’ participation. When they come in for a screening visit and sign their informed consent form, the certificate represents a small reward and a priceless opportunity to pay it forward, and it is always an unexpected but welcomed surprise.
What is your hope for clinical trials?
I hope one day clinical research will be a first line care option. The more people are involved in clinical trials, the more robust the data and the quicker the achievement of endpoints and consequently the sooner the approval of an investigational product. Our goal is to provide the public with medications that will enhance their current quality of life and that of future generations, and the faster we can get there, the better. I believe for certain disciplines, particularly oncology, research is a first line care option but we’re not quite there for neurology. This fact underscores the importance of Greater Gift’s mission. For our patients at Raleigh Neurology, there is an implicit benefit to research involvement. Our patients enjoy coming to the clinic because we honor the contribution of their time and bodies to the advancement of science. We do this, for example, by making their research visits as effortless as possible.
How could we improve the experience for people in clinical trials?
I think participants in clinical trials for difficult indications like Alzheimer’s would appreciate more information on “how the trial is going”. This is a common question from patients. They want to know things like how close the sponsor is to reaching target enrollment and can we provide any insight on the results. I know before data is analyzed it would be impossible to release results, but most people would appreciate perhaps a “newsletter” for patients giving them an update on study progress.
What do you wish people knew about clinical trials?
I wish people would regard clinical research as extraordinary healthcare. In what other circumstance would you get bloodwork, procedures (MRIs, PET scans, ECGs, etc.), and the opportunity to spend focused time with a healthcare professional who wants to know everything about you at regular intervals? I’ve been involved in Alzheimer’s research now for 3 years and I’ve encountered many patients whose first ECG ever was at their screening visit, and these are people in their 60s and 70s. We assess everything about our patients, not only their physical health but their mental and emotional states. I’m sure the vast majority of our patients would say their experience in clinical research was a positive one.
Describe clinical trials in 3 words.
Necessary. Misunderstood. Rewarding.