Hi, welcome. The most important qualifications are to not be afraid of needles, and not mind being administered various drugs. The most important question for people to respond to you with helpful advice would be: what part of the country are you in, and how far are you willing to travel?
I am only familiar with the clinics in CA, TX, and a few in the central states (Kansas, Missouri, Indiana). Texas is a great place, you can hang out in Austin and it is not as expensive as the coasts, it has 3 or 4 good clinics in range, and it is a very fun city. In Socal the pickings are fairly slim but there are two clinics here that aren't bad. Also, I have scored a few studies at Celerion in Phoenix, my experiences there have been mixed, but it is not too bad. I had a great study about 4 years ago at Covance, Evansville, IN. The pay was good but I would not recommend living in your van there in January, it gets way, way below freezing.
You can pay for motels, I do sometimes; I try to get the better deals like the ones that you can get a room for a week. I stick with the regional franchises like motel 6 and Intown Suites, they are usually much, much less skuzzy than the independent weekly motels. They can run about $200 for a week, maybe closer to $300 in a nicer more metropolitan area. This can very quickly eat into your finances though; I have a small van that I can live in for shortish periods.
I have never heard of a clinic assisting at all with motels, it's all your responsibility. Unfortunately, I think that with a lot of studies, the clinic and sponsor will have the participants do outpatient visits when they really should still be kept in the clinic full time, they do this to shave dollars off their cost. When you are doing outpatient followup visits, of course you have to take care of your own food and lodging.
Like I said in another recent post, one of the biggest fringe benefits of doing studies is how much you save on food costs and other various stuff when you are in clinic; which is why a 15 or 20 day study can be great, think of all the money you save on food, gas, etc. on top of the big check you are getting.
Very rarely, a clinic will let you stay some nights in the clinic even though you are discharged and doing outpatient visits.
It's like I said they only house you for the periods of the study that are inpatient or "in-house". They will tell you ahead of time what those dates are. Some studies are just one inpatient period and then you're done, but that's rare, usually there are some number of follow-up visits.
I went to Quintiles once, it's a very nice well-run facility, they do all your procedures at your bed; no paperwork, all on a touch screen at your bed. The food was very good and they give you more than enough of it. My only complaint is they seem to be kind of picky, I traveled a long way to screen for a high paying study, but they said my veins weren't good for that study; but I was able to get right into a shorter lower paying study the same day.
If you're talking about veins then they want the bigger the better and the closer to the surface. My veins are fairly deep at my inner elbows, some phlebotomists have trouble hitting them. As for other things they look for, I would say they look for not too much information. If you have read some of the other threads on here, we get into this subject: knowing what to tell clinics and what not too. I am not at all saying to lie to a clinic, I'm saying use judgement to discern what they should know and what is really irrelevant. For example, if they ask you if you have taken any medication in the past two months, and you took 2 aspirin 55 days ago, just don't mention this. It doesn't matter and it can only make things a big pain in the ***.
I would also recommend to you and to anyone in general: be pleasant and courteous, in my most recent study, I was surprised at how much of a prick one guy was, he was *****y and impatient about procedures and it only got worse towards the end of the study. And I have done studies that were much, much more tedious and time wasting than this one. If someone is really impatient and spoiled and has been raised by a mother who coddles them and they still live at home at age 28, maybe they should do everyone a favor and not do clinic studies. The staff remembers people like that, and if they are real assholes, word might even get to the recruiters who decide if you can screen for studies in the first place.
I know a guy that screened and was turned away because they asked if he took meds in the last 30 days. He said yes, ibuprofen, because he 'occasionally' gets back pain. They not only turned him away, they told him he's need a doctor's note to ever come back and screen again. So yeah.... be REAL careful about what you tell them. In my experience, from talking to the dozens of roommates I've had on study, almost everyone lies about SOING to get in the study in the first place.
Thanks Mike and Diamond. My veins are noticeable, but sometimes they disappear. And I have read other threads on here. What do you think is a good clinic to start? I want to complete my first study over the summer.