Leverage Ongoing Recognition to Battle CRC Burnout

Andrea Bastek, Director of Innovation, Florence Healthcare

It may not take a big bonus or a flashy, one-time gesture to effectively alleviate chronic clinical research coordinator (CRC) burnout, suggests Andrea Bastek, PhD, director of innovation at Florence Healthcare. The secret? “Sprinkle in regular recognition” to CRCs who, especially after a trial is successfully concluded, often feel their work is overlooked, she says.

“When a trial ends, the principal investigator and the sponsor get all the attention,” Bastek says. “CRCs I’ve talked to are frustrated by the lack of recognition” they receive, and the chasm feeds negative feelings of burnout, she adds. Even more than the long hours and difficult work, Bastek says, it’s the lack of recognition fueling CRC resentment and fatigue.

“CRCs are going above and beyond the call of duty,” especially in areas like conducting the informed consent process, Bastek says. “CRCs want acknowledgement when it takes them five hours to process a patient with a lot of questions,” but too often come away feeling underappreciated instead, she notes.

Luckily, the solution is readily available and not expensive; it just takes some focus and a little creativity, Bastek notes. For example, set up a “Kudos Channel” on Slack or some other communication platform to celebrate CRC “wins” on an ongoing basis.

“I’ve also seen ‘high five boards’ on the walls at sites,” Bastek says. Those feature photos and notices about CRC achievements, such as highest number of patients enrolled in a given week, or highlights about the “CRC of the Week.”

“These little bits of recognition can go a long way,” Bastek says. “A $5 Starbucks gift card to recognize a CRC’s hard work can make their day,” she adds. “It’s not about doing something big—and many [managers] aren’t in a position to offer big bonuses, anyway. [Instead], do little things all the time.”

CRCs just want to be noticed, and they aren’t necessarily expecting a bonus, Bastek explains. Other “little” gestures she’s seen be effective include free pizza lunches and bringing in good coffee for the team one morning.

Finally, managers who want to show their CRCs how much they value them might want to emulate patients in a clinical trial. “CRCs feel more appreciated by patients” than their colleagues, Bastek says. “Patients say thank you to CRCs more than PIs” or others do, she notes.

Author: Michael Causey