Clinical Research Workforce Initiative Aims to Seize Momentum

Photograph of PACRW Meeting at ACRP 2023

“Seizing momentum” and “meeting people where they are” were the implicit themes of several new, ongoing, or proposed workforce development efforts highlighted by representatives of leading institutions on Friday (April 28) during the latest meeting of ACRP’s Partners Advancing the Clinical Research Workforce (PACRW) collaborative initiative.

With a shared goal of building a bigger and brighter future for the clinical research profession, more than 20 PACRW advisors from across the academic, regulatory, and corporate spectrum of the drug and device research and development enterprise met in person during the first day of the ACRP 2023 conference in Dallas, Texas, with many more stakeholders listening in online from around the world.

“Not everyone starts at the same place” on their journey toward a career in clinical research, said ACRP Executive Director Susan P. Landis as she launched the meeting. She noted that, as the PACRW partners continue to take “small steps” to achieve the initiative’s larger goals, “we have to provide opportunities for people coming at clinical research from different directions” to learn about the profession and gain the necessary skills to succeed in a fulfilling job. “Later on, we’re going to have to take a giant leap” to help standardize early talent development for the industry, she added.

In addition to updates on ongoing workforce development collaborations between ACRP and Merck, presenters at the PACRW meeting heard about the activities of the Clinical Research Professionals Workforce Development Program of the Jefferson Clinical Research Institute of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pa., and the Clinical Research Foundations program of the Clinical Trials Office of the Clinical and Translational Science Center at UC Davis Health in California.

At Thomas Jefferson, the goal is to grow talent among research-naïve employees already within the organization through training and retraining. At UC Davis, a new paradigm in workforce development concentrates on training students from local community colleges (who have already been onboarded with a staffing agency) the fundamentals of clinical research using ACRP learning materials and other resources and activities to prepare them for applying for work anywhere in the field.

Landis noted that the ongoing work of the PACRW is making it more and more clear how a pathway for early career development in clinical research can and should be crafted, though challenges and opportunities remain in terms of how to scale it up to a model that is ready for industry-wide adoption. The goal is to both “pull in early talent” and to “push it out into the community,” she said.

Author: Gary Cramer