ACRP 2022 Conference Celebrates Clinical Research Workforce

Photograph of Attendees

Clinical Researchers Reunite at ACRP's Annual Conference in Orlando

“You are awesome, you absolutely rock, and I want to thank you for all you’ve done and all you are going to do” to advance clinical research, Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) Executive Director Susan Landis told attendees of ACRP’s 2022 conference during the kickoff session this morning (April 23).

Stressing the importance of the clinical trial workforce in the entire healthcare ecosystem, Landis noted “there is no transformation in clinical research without you.” Clinical research professionals are an integral part of promoting patient-centricity, leveraging the benefits of decentralized clinical trials (DCTs), and training the next generation of practitioners, Landis said.

“Covid-19 has pulled back the curtain on how medicines get to people, and it’s you” who make it happen, ACRP Board of Trustees Chair David Morin told attendees.

Lauding ACRP’s certification programs as a way to elevate the profession, Morin, certified in 2007, reminded the audience about the importance of self-study. “Getting certification gives you a much better understanding of the research process and sets the standard for the people who work with you,” said Morin, who is also director of research at Holston Medical Group. ACRP certification credentials “stand out as a mark of excellence,” Morin added.

If applauding the herculean efforts of the clinical research workforce in batting covid-19 with three vaccines developed in record time was one theme, the need for expanding the clinical trial workforce was another refrain on day one of the ACRP 2022 conference.

Landis, Morin, and others stressed the need to promote diversity in the clinical trial workforce, to establish clearer career paths, and find ways to bring new professionals in to meet a growing workload demand.

At Merck, Leslie Wolfe, Director, Global Clinical Trials Operations, described an internship program piloted in 2019 which has successfully attracted recent college graduates in part by developing an entry-level professional role. “In my thirty-plus years in the industry, this has been one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve had, I feel privileged to help launch new careers in our industry,” Wolfe said. “I challenge others in the industry to develop similar programs” to draw new talent, she said.

Kate Day, a six-year veteran at Merck and a senior clinical research associate (CRA), recalled she was mostly just happy to land a full-time job when she began her career at Merck. “I wasn’t thinking too far ahead,” she told ACRP 2022 attendees. However, after settling in, she began to see other opportunities and career paths at Merck. “But getting to the next step requires a plan,” she said.

For Day, the advancement plan includes articulating a career path and observing options, networking, securing a mentor, and investigating internal job share and other career development tools offered by Merck. “It’s worth it for both the employee and the company, and I encourage other companies to offer similar programs,” Day said.

Finally, Cara Silletto, speaker and workforce thought leader, offered thoughts on how best to bring together the disparate talents and temperaments of all age groups.

“We know diversity is key,” Silletto said. “We need every type, including mindset and generational” to function at the highest level, she said. “Diversity counts, and we need to make sure we are seeing things from several different directions,” Silletto told attendees.

For starters, she advised the professionals attending the conference to “mentor people who do not think and look like you do,” calling it “a way to build diversity into the industry and a way to learn.”

She also called on leaders to work harder to get outside their own mindset. When it comes to differences in the approach to work from one generation to the next, there is not necessarily a “right or wrong,” Silletto stressed. “Leaders have to see both sides.”

Effective leaders and managers will communicate their expectations. “No one can read your mind,” Silletto said.

And don’t forget the power of appreciation, she said. Value “all contributions, turn up your thank you meter, and appreciate everyone on your team,” Silletto said.

Author: Michael Causey