Funding Employee Certification Forges Ties with Workforce and Enhances Performance, Expert Says

Nadine H. Spring, PhD, CCRC, Director of Operations, SpringWell360 LLC

Nadine H. Spring, PhD, CCRC, Director of Operations, SpringWell360 LLC

Are you a clinical trials sponsor, investigator, or manager who is looking to forge stronger ties with your workforce and enhance their performance at the same time? Consider paying for your staff to become certified, says Nadine Spring, MS, MPH, CCRC, director of clinical research services at the Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics.

“I think employees feel more valued when their employers contribute to their career development by paying for clinical research certification,” Spring says. “Certified clinical research professionals are also more motivated, and I think the main value to certification is that it increases the quality of their work. There is a better understanding of why we do things the way we do in clinical research when compared to standard of care.”

Unlike many who ultimately become clinical research professionals, Spring’s career path was relatively straightforward. After earning her bachelor’s degree in biology, she went straight into working as a research assistant at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

“I also decided to pursue my master’s degree in public health studying at night while I was working at Mount Sinai,” Spring says. “Once I graduated, I moved on to be a research coordinator with a rheumatology group out on Long Island, N.Y., which is now called Northwell Health. I worked there for two years before an HR person at a hospital reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, we have this position open, and I think you would be a great fit. Would you be interested in interviewing?’ So I started interviewing for the position of manager for the Lupus and Antiphospholipid Syndrome Center at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.” Spring worked there for six years before moving to her current role at Emory University.

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Spring first became a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator (CCRC) through ACRP in 2011. Her employer paid for all five of the clinical research coordinators (CRCs) on staff to become certified. It had positive impacts on both staff and potential sponsor customers, Spring recalls.

“Sponsors were overall impressed that we had a fully certified staff,” Spring says. “They certainly expressed enthusiasm and thought it suggested that we were a high-performing site because the coordinators were certified. It may not have been ‘official’ caring, but I do think they prioritized us because the CRCs were certified.”

Spring adds that she is “a big fan of standardization” in the field. In her view, certification helps standardize the profession to ensure “we are hiring quality people. We can literally hire anyone in clinical research, but I feel certification helps to standardize who is coming into the field and their understanding of what it is that clinical research means.”

Gone are the days when certification is a nice “want” rather than “need,” says Spring. “In many ways, I’ve felt certification should be required after at least two years of experience. The field is so vast in terms of who we hire for clinical research, and there are so many things to learn—so many I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed.”

Author: Michael Causey