Innovative Program Expands Clinical Trial Workforce, Patient Outreach in Hispanic Communities

Photograph of Michaele Linden-Johnson

Michaele Linden-Johnson, FACHE, MBA, LCSW

Talking about diversity, raising awareness about inequities, and challenging others to think about facing inclusivity challenges in new ways are vital, but there’s nothing quite like rolling up your sleeves and tackling a problem directly at the grassroots level.

Just ask Michaele Linden-Johnson, FACHE, MBA, LCSW, director of clinical trials and business development at the Medical Center of the Americas (MCA) Foundation Cardwell Collaborative in El Paso, Texas. She’s at the helm of a program designed to better serve the health and clinical trial needs of her nearly 90% Hispanic patient population in and around El Paso.

“We’re all about developing a workforce designed to reflect our patient population,” Linden-Johnson says.

As part of her work with the recently created Clinical Trials Academy at the MCA Foundation, Linden-Johnson and team members have posted some impressive results:

  • 59 students enrolled in clinical research coordinator (CRC) training, with about 80% of those being Hispanic
  • 49 CRC certificates of completion
  • 18 enrolled in principal investigator (PI) training and coaching
  • Three CRC apprenticeships awarded to graduates at local sites
  • Seven PI certificates of completion
  • Four jobs awarded to graduates

“Our region’s clinical trial site network has grown nearly 140%” between 2017 and 2022, Linden-Johnson says. The West Texas and Southern New Mexico region conducted nearly 220 trials in 2022, or nearly 190% the number of trials conducted in 2017.

The future looks bright, Linden-Johnson says. Three additional sites are receiving startup support, and there are several strategic partnership discussions under way between regional providers and existing sites to find new ways to grow the clinical trial footprint together, she adds.

She’s also “looking forward” in a sense to a potential future “problem” the program could create. “Someday we will saturate this local market, but we believe this work can help to place future professionals in other parts of the country,” Linden-Johnson says.

Author: Michael Causey