Nationally ranked Program at EMU provides students for U-M medical programs

By Geoff Larcom / EMU 

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University’s clinical research master’s program regularly ranks among the country’s best in various listings, but it also has a strong endorsement from a major employer of its students and graduates – the University of Michigan.

Clinical research is the study of disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and includes the testing of pharmaceuticals or medical devices in patients prior to FDA approval.

In several national surveys, Eastern’s Clinical Research Administration program has been ranked among the top in the U.S., and number one in Michigan. Since 2010, U-M has provided 43 internships for Eastern Michigan University students under the supervision of Monica Orians, manager of oncology quality assurance at the Rogel Cancer Center Oncology Clinical Trials Support Unit, which has also hired 11 Eastern graduates. In addition, five other EMU clinical research program graduates have been hired elsewhere at U-M, Orians says.

The interns get extensive on the job experience in a variety of roles, Orians says.

Students are paired with a mentor, and all of their work is overseen as they shadow team members. They learn data management, complete case report forms and review submissions of applications for new studies or study renewals during their work in the North Campus Research Complex on Plymouth Road.

The program lasts eight to 10 weeks, with the first two weeks devoted to required orientation, training and learning regulations.

“It’s been a really good collaboration,” Orians says of the intern program and connection with EMU students. “From a very close perspective, it gives us a pool of potential candidates for when we have open staff positions.”

As a manager of quality assurance for the Rogel Cancer Center, Orians is responsible for the auditing of investigator initiated trials, and she oversees the monitoring program.

Orians says that along with the excellent training the students receive under the direction of Eastern Michigan University Program Leader Jean Rowan and Professor Irwin Martin, the geographic proximity helps facilitate collaboration and rich opportunities for interns and graduates.

“The collaboration enriches our program on a variety of levels,” Orians says. “(Rowan and Martin) come from the pharmaceutical world and they bring a very practical perspective. It’s important having professionals come in with an understanding of regulations, and of how to work in a community that is so highly regulated. On the clinical side, (such training) is also important. The challenge is to remember that connection to the patient – it’s all about the patient.”

Rowan says that when learning new skills beyond the classroom there is no substitute for the hands-on experience that an internship provides.

“We highly value and are grateful for the relationship we have with Monica Orians at the University of Michigan’s Rogel Cancer Center Oncology Clinical Trials Support Unit,” Rowan says. “The Eastern Michigan student/interns routinely report the excitement they experience when they are able to take the theory they have learned in the classroom and put it into practice, and they note how welcomed, encouraged and well-supported they feel during their internship at the University of Michigan.”

Along with such solid internship experience, another key question arises for students: How is the job market in this field?

Excellent, Orians says.

“It’s going to continue to grow,” she says. “The testing of new drugs is only going to continue to expand. I don’t think that many people know about it. Anything you can do to encourage people to go into the clinical research field is good.”

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University’s Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University’s website.

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