Firming Up Our Foundation

Clinical Researcher—January 2019 (Volume 33, Issue 1)


Jim Kremidas




“Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” — Mark Twain


While I suspect his knowledge of clinical trials was limited, author Mark Twain understood the importance of the workforce. New technologies are exciting, new best practices are eye-opening, but the foundation of it all is a well-trained workforce with a clear career path and an understanding of expectations and the definition of success. It’s called the human factor, and its impact cannot be overstated.

Enlightened focus on the workforce in clinical trials is long overdue. Nurses and pharmacists have clear roles, responsibilities, and standards to use as a professional template. Clinical trial professionals don’t. That must change, and I think 2019 is the year to make it happen.

Throughout 2018, I gave you updates in this space about initiatives your Association was either spearheading or supporting. For example, we worked with others to establish competency frameworks for clinical research associates and clinical research coordinators. We’re doing the same with principal investigators in 2019.

Via our conferences, our publications, and our speaking engagements, ACRP is beating the drum about the importance of standards and certifications as part of a clear career path. Thanks to you, our messages are powerful—and resonating. A wide array of healthcare organizations has joined forces with us in several initiatives (many are outlined in John Neal’s “Chair’s Message” for this issue), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has begun taking steps with us to help advance the professionalism of the clinical trial workforce.

We’re also working with a wide swath of the industry to come up with innovative ways to attract new entrants into the workforce. I’ve been frankly surprised to learn how few young people are even aware of clinical trials as a career option. As part of our efforts to help craft meaningful career paths, we’re also working to identify and create the knowledge and standards that will help potential new entrants thrive in our industry.

Yes, there’s lots going on already; but I’m hoping our ACRP 2019 meeting and expo in Nashville in April serves as a launching pad for even greater heights. I hope to see you there.

Here’s to an exciting, productive 2019!

Jim Kremidas ( is Executive Director of ACRP.