Strategies in the Face of Workforce Challenges

Susan P. Landis

Clinical Researcher—October 2022 (Volume 36, Issue 5)


Susan P. Landis, Executive Director of ACRP


Whether it be the “Great Resignation,” “quiet quitting,” or reluctance to RTO (return to office), clinical research–related organizations share in such woes alongside the rest of the employment market.

What’s a leader to do? Fostering flexibility, camaraderie, and diversity may seem like obvious places to start in terms of de-stressing and rewarding your talented teams. Beyond that, ACRP is taking steps to help our members attract people who are “on the outside looking in”: reducing and removing barriers to entry-level employment and cheerleading for wider acknowledgment of clinical research as a true profession. Consider some of your resources from the Association, as summarized below.

Reducing and Removing Barriers

Members of ACRP’s Partners Advancing the Clinical Research Workforce say two key challenges are threatening development of the clinical trials sector. First, they lament that there is a lack of awareness of clinical research as a profession (more on that later)—even after the publicity it gained during COVID-19 vaccine development. However, the consortium highlighted a second, incontrovertible barrier: the default prerequisite for a specific number of years of experience—very frequently two years—in entry-level job descriptions.

In response, the Partners have published a new white paper,Barriers to Bridges: Addressing the Urgent Need for a Diverse, Research-Ready Workforce Within the Clinical Research Profession,” exploring the growing workforce shortage in clinical research, its root causes, and disruptive ways to turn barriers into bridges.

Ready to Go

With an eye on a growing global workforce shortage, ACRP also recently announced an innovative training program that helps to accelerate the introduction and onboarding of new entrants into the clinical research profession. ACRP’s “Early Talent Training Program™” is a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive curriculum that prepares candidates and lateral movers for work involving the setup, management, regulation, support, and reporting of clinical trials. The three-week training program allows sites, contract research organizations, academic and health institutions, and sponsors to more quickly onboard those who are new to clinical trials and who have the right skills to succeed in the profession.

Cheerleading for the Profession

Meanwhile, the problem with being a cheerleader for clinical research begins with its lack of recognition as a tried-and-true profession that is acknowledged and tracked by the Bureau of Labor of Statistics, as is, for example, the nursing profession. With this type of recognition, we would have more data and a better understanding of the industry’s needs.

One resource for tackling this issue is ACRP’s “Ready, Set, Clinical Research!™” outreach effort, designed for flexible use by career advisors, recruiters, employers, and other stakeholders with a vested interest in the growth and diversification of the clinical research workforce. Using carefully crafted, impactful messaging intended to influence both hearts and minds in your community, this online kit features emotive, personal stories from patients and clinical research professionals to emphasize the people-centered nature of clinical research and foster a sense of excitement, inspiration, and curiosity.

Be Our Guest

If you find yourself struggling to form a coherent strategy for facing any of these challenges, I encourage you to take advantage of the advice, knowledge, and creative tools ACRP has to offer; to share your feedback on them with us; and to let us know about your organization’s own successful pathways for tackling any other aspects of the chaos of our times.