Project Managers Deserve Clear Career Paths, Job Descriptions

Jessica Fritter, MACPR, ACRP-CP

Jessica Fritter, MACPR, ACRP-CP, Clinical Research Administration Manager, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

The vital role of project managers in clinical trials is being undermined by foggy career paths and disparate definitions and job descriptions scattered across the industry, says Jessica Fritter, MACPR, ACRP-CP, clinical research administration manager for Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Describing the issues as “a huge barrier,” Fritter is working to help project managers feel “less alone” as they perform their important work. “Many people stumble into clinical research [as a career], and then stumble into project management,” she notes.

Unfortunately, the difficult job of being a project manager is made more complex because the clinical trial industry doesn’t generally agree on job terms, descriptions, and definitions, Fritter says. “Some project managers are called clinical research coordinators (CRCs) because it is the nurses on the hospital side who get called project managers,” she notes. It’s confusing for everyone, she adds.

“We need to make it easier for project managers by standardizing” definitions and roles, she stresses. “Clinical trial organizations are different, and often use different terms” that don’t equate to those used at other clinical trial shops, she says.

“There are many flavors of project management in a clinical trial, from start-up, through execution, and on to closing,” Fritter says. However, many project managers aren’t truly aware of how their activities fit into the larger whole of the clinical trial, she notes. These project managers aren’t always aware of potential gaps in their experience or education, and don’t know where to find the resources and back-up they require, she adds.

“Project managers need to learn about all the pillars of the role in a clinical trial,” Fritter says. It will help them better understand their job, their career prospects, and how they can improve as a professional, she adds. Armed with such knowledge, “they can identify areas where they need training, and then learn about the best ways to find it,” she says.

Standardizing definitions and carving out clearer career paths will help today’s professionals “better understand where they are in their career, and identify the skills they need to grow,” Fritter says.

Author: Michael Causey