Joint Task Force Vies for ACRP Innovation in Workforce Development Award

Stephen Sonstein, PhD

Stephen Sonstein, PhD, Senior Advisor, Multi-Regional Clinical Trials Center

Competency, not tenure, should be the litmus test for clinical trial professionals, a growing number of experts agree. The challenge is developing and promulgating such standards. That’s where the Joint Task Force for Clinical Trial Competency (JTF) comes in.

With the JTF being one of three finalists for the ACRP Innovation in Workforce Development Award, Stephen A. Sonstein, PhD, director of clinical research administration at Eastern Michigan University and one of the leaders of the JTF, appreciates the recognition for the group’s efforts—and hopes for a victory to help spread the word about its important work. “We’re going to publicize it whether we win or not, of course, but I think the award will help publicize it and what we’ve done and how valuable it is,” he said.

In today’s clinical workforce, people are “hired or promoted based on whether they’ve had two years of experience, as opposed to how competent they are,” Sonstein said. The JTF is a driving force to change that dynamic.

Over the past decade, as the concept of competency-based education and training spread to the medicines development industry, many groups developed lists of knowledge and specific skills to define the core competencies required of clinical research professionals. Broadly speaking, the approach of each group was focused on a specific component of the clinical research enterprise (e.g., clinical research coordinators, clinical research associates, and regulatory affairs professionals).


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In 2013, the JTF was formed to bring in as many voices and perspectives as possible, with the goal of emerging with across-the-board standards applicable to clinical trial professionals throughout the trial process.

“ACRP was the group to pick up on these competencies more than any other group, and publicized them and integrated them into its activities,” Sonstein said. “For example, one of the meeting tracks at [ACRP 2018] is based on the competency domains.”

In July 2017, ACRP named Beth Harper its Chief Innovation Officer. Harper is active promoting many JTF concepts. “ACRP and Harper have really been a major component of what the JTF has done,” Sonstein said.

The inaugural ACRP Innovation in Workforce Development Award recipient will be announced Friday, April 27, during the ACRP/Avoca 2018 Awards Ceremony & Gala.

Author: Michael Causey