Championing a Resilient Academic Medical Center Workforce

Denise Snyder, MS, RD, Associate Dean for Clinical Research, Duke University School of Medicine

Academic medical centers face multiple hurdles to attracting a well-trained workforce of clinical research professionals, with a lack of competency-based job descriptions and standardization across and within institutions. These stand in the way of successful recruitment, onboarding, and retention.

“Barriers to supporting clinical research professionals relate to foundational onboarding, logistical challenges, institutional champions, and mentorship,” says Denise Snyder, MS, RD, Associate Dean for Clinical Research, Duke University School of Medicine. “These challenges were identified from an analysis of qualitative data from a series of breakout sessions and open-text surveys. All can cause frustration among new recruits due to the lack of an initial roadmap as they start their new role.”

Snyder outlines potential solutions to key barriers below.

Balancing Foundational Onboarding: General onboarding offered by institutions typically covers benefits, insurance, time off, and other elements. There is variability in how clinical research professionals are onboarded depending on the department involved. Onboarding materials should be consistent with competency-based job expectations for each role, providing details of the studies they will be working on, required training, institutional policies, and other resources to support their initial efforts at the new institution. As part of overall workforce engagement resilience activities, this helps new recruits quickly feel part of the clinical research community.

Managing Logistical Challenges and Institutional Contexts: During onboarding, clinical research professionals should be oriented to the broader institutional culture and their role within it. Networking and educational events can be effective in cementing connections outside of the immediate clinical research sphere and identifying useful sources of support and information.

Identifying and Enlisting Institutional Champions: Identifying and enlisting institutional champions is an important activity for new recruits. These advocates can provide resources to answer questions or offer advocacy support. This can give new hires the added confidence to seek out support as they learn their new roles.

Assessing Competencies: A helpful way to reward demonstrated competencies is to enable promotions via tier advancement within a particular role. Investment in management training is an important element in supporting career success.

Providing High-Quality Mentorship: Creating professional development opportunities can foster mentor/mentee relationships. Cohorts of recruits can be grouped together, providing support through the onboarding process, and encouraging workforce continuity that is essential to clinical trial success.

Collaborative Conversations: AMC Workforce Issues

Join Denise and a panel of speakers at ACRP 2023 [April 28 – May 1; Dallas, TX], where they’ll discuss the urgent need to close gaps in CRP workforce turnover, how to attract more diverse applicants, and improve professionalization of the CRP career pathway. View complete schedule. 

“As clinical research professional leaders, we know that there is a pressing need to reduce turnover, attract and retain more diverse recruits, and advance professionalization of career paths in clinical research,” concludes Snyder. “Working toward addressing the various barriers to a well-trained workforce will be an important step to achieving these goals.”

Author: Jill Dawson