Straightening Out Those Sideways Career Entries

Clinical Researcher—November 2019 (Volume 33, Issue 9)


Jim Kremidas


I recently had the opportunity to watch some fascinating—and inspiring—interviews with members of ACRP’s Northern California chapter. Enthusiastic participants talked about the importance of clinical research to them as a career, both personally and professionally. Over and over, I heard uplifting stories of how a clinical trial professional had seen his or her work improve the lives of patients and otherwise offer new hope in the face of sometimes desperate health circumstances.

I was struck by another theme that recurred during the dozen or so interviews: How virtually none of the clinical research coordinators (CRCs) in the group had set out to become clinical researchers. Many “entered the field sideways,” as one put it, via another aspect of healthcare, such as nursing. They described how roundabout entry points, fortuitous connections, and maybe a little luck had brought them to such a fulfilling professional landing place.

Frankly, I was left with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I remain so grateful our field was able to somehow attract and retain these hard-working, motivated professionals. On the other hand, I had to wonder about how much talent we may be missing because clinical trials lack clear entry portals and career paths.

Progress on Pathways, Partnerships, and Professionalism

Working with you, our members, and others throughout the clinical trial ecosystem, ACRP has made some exciting strides when it comes to helping establish meaningful, role-specific competency guidelines, performance-based milestones, and career paths. All are designed to help us address a chronic workforce shortage by enriching the talent pool and helping the best of the best remain vibrant performers throughout the cycle of their careers.

The good news keeps coming. Earlier this month, we welcomed OhioHealth Research Institute to the ACRP “Partners in Workforce Advancement” (PWA) project, our groundbreaking new initiative to expand the clinical research workforce by bringing together a broad coalition of clinical research stakeholders focused on creating a sustainable workforce for the future.

We are excited to partner with OhioHealth Research Institute on this critical initiative. We believe that in clinical research, people are everything. Without an adequate pipeline of qualified, competent professionals, our community will fail both to sustain the workforce and to improve the efficiency and quality of medical discovery.

I look forward to working more closely with each of you in 2020 on these and other important issues. As always, please feel free to reach out to me directly with your ideas and concerns.

Jim Kremidas ( is Executive Director of ACRP.