Don’t Let Tenure Alone Drive Hiring Strategy

Lorene Ward, Senior Clinical Research Associate, Syneos Health

Lorene Ward, Senior Clinical Research Associate, Syneos Health

Attitude is a far better indicator that you’ve got a good clinical research prospect than tenure, says Lorene Ward, senior clinical research associate with Syneos Health, a North Carolina–based integrated biopharmaceutical solutions organization including a contract research organization and a contract commercial organization.

In her prior role as a research manager with a small psychiatric practice that dabbled in trials as a side business, Ward grew frustrated after hiring a series of candidates with long resumes as clinical researchers. The reason? Many were resistant to learning new things and new ways of doing them.

For example, Ward had new hires who would stubbornly take on projects way above their skill level, sometimes outrightly ignoring the study protocol. “They’d tell me that’s how they did it at their last job,” she says. That can be a dangerous situation, she adds.

Ward saw better results when she experimented with the different approach of hiring interns with psychiatric or medical backgrounds, but not necessarily possessing clinical research experience. Both sides knew it could become a permanent position if they were both happy during the intern process.

“When an intern would ask me to talk about the day-to-day process of being a researcher, I knew I had a person to keep” Ward says. Another bonus was that she could work with people before they developed bad habits.

Ward also called on those doing the hiring to do a better job explaining the entire clinical trial process to potential candidates, and not just focusing on their more narrow segment. “I’ve had people with lots of experience, but there are parts of the process they’ve never touched and are probably not familiar with,” she says. Her final verdict? “Tenure is no guarantee of quality.”

“As an industry, we also need to do a better job of promoting a career path,” Ward says. Clinical trial professionals have to better understand their roles in the trial process, and ways they can build on their skills to grow and take on new challenges, she adds.

Author: Michael Causey