Savvy CRCs Make Task Prioritization a Priority

Joy Jurnack, RN, CCRC, FACRP, Patient/Subject Research Consultant

Since leaving the practice of research nursing, I’ve had time to reflect on the number of tasks required in a day which are vitally important when conducting successful research. If forming a list, needless to say it would be lengthy, yet I believe we often prioritize using an older hierarchy rather than prioritizing differently—by using tools available today that were not available before.

The position of clinical research coordinator (CRC), especially in a small practice, is crucial for successful research on humans. It is unfortunate many of the daily tasks are not officially taught during your initiation to your team or during your onboarding process. Possibly you have come directly from college and need direction and mentorship to ensure you grow into your role. Maybe you have transferred from a larger team to a smaller team with fewer people to rely on. You have reasons for earning your research position, and having organizational and prioritization skills is likely one of the strengths which landed you the job.

Specifically, I would like to address how prepared a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator (CCRC®) must be in order to run a trial successfully and with limited sponsor protocol deviations. The success of a project is dependent on clean data, and the expectations put upon us in the research world are only expanding. The field is expected to do more with less funding. Budgeting to ensure time to prepare for scheduled and unscheduled study visits becomes low on the priority list, yet it is one of the most important tasks.

For these reasons and more, I would like to suggest that preparing for study visits completely is key to successful research. Participant visits set off a chain of task-driven duties, with much of the visits’ success revolving around an assurance that you have all the supplies you need.

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The components of research are vast. Proper identification of potential study subjects is a priority. Proper informed consent discussion, documentation, and continuing discussion are priorities. Understand the protocol and schedule of events is a priority. Preparing blood samples with specific packaging is a priority. Identifying usable laboratory draw kits to complete a study visit is a priority. I could go on and on.

My practical suggestion is to set aside time first thing each Monday morning to assess the supplies needed for your week. Do you need copies of the informed consent because you are consenting potential subjects? Is your dry ice shipment adequate for the amount of blood work you are sending out that week? Have you enough laboratory kits to make it through the week? Have you printed adequate source documentation for all your visits? Have you set up your charts for the week?

Not every site has a team of people working on research. Much of my career as a research nurse was spent on clerical duties to set up for subject visits. While I may have made the mistake of not prioritizing my supplies for the week does not mean you have to. Your time is valuable. Schedule time to ensure you have adequate inventory for your week of study visits. The results will be satisfying.

Author: Joy Jurnack, RN, CCRC, FACRP, Senior Director for Site Engagement with, Inc.