Core Competencies Could Strengthen Clinical Workforce

Clinical Trial Operations (GCPs)

Having a set of core competencies will be “incredibly helpful” in addressing the current clinical research associate (CRA) shortage, says Bonnie Miller, RN, MS, a clinical research consultant and president of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) Northern California Chapter.

“This job requires tangible standardized role competencies,” says Miller, who is also an adjunct faculty member with San Francisco State University’s College of Extended Learning and with the University of California, Berkeley Extension. Tenure should not be the consideration when judging whether someone is ready to be promoted, she adds.

Ironically, that lack of benchmarked core competencies contributes to the very workforce shortage that industry so desperately wants to correct, says ACRP Workforce Innovation Officer Terri Hinkley, RN, BScN, MBA, CCRC, FACRP.

“ACRP, working with a number of organizations, is calling for an end to the arbitrary practice of requiring two years of monitoring experience for entry-level CRAs/monitors,” Hinkley adds. It’s a practice that evolved over time, but which has pretty much eliminated the CRA pipeline and resulted in an ongoing shortage of new entrants to become CRAs.

By focusing on competency and not tenure, “we can identify, educate, train, and prepare the future clinical research workforce,” Hinkley says.

Clear descriptions of core competencies and skillset expectations will benefit both employees and supervisors, Miller adds. “Managers will be better able to write and hire to a competency-based job description, perform meaningful performance reviews, and assess promotion readiness,” she says. “This will benefit those transitioning into clinical research, as well as those making lateral or vertical moves in the clinical trial workplace.”

Miller often coaches her ACRP Chapter members and university students about clinical research career paths. She led the initial CRA pathways development while on the former ACRP Professional Development Committee, and was a panelist for the ACRP webinar on “How to Enter the Clinical Research Field,” which is available as a free replay.

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Author: Michael Causey