5 Trends in Clinical Research Resourcing to Watch in 2023

As we head into 2023, the clinical research resourcing experts at Vitalief expect continued disruptions in traditional workforce strategies. Several industry trends will significantly impact research and clinical trial organizations’ recruiting, hiring, and retention practices.

Today, we’re diving into the top five trends and how they may impact your workforce efforts.

Trend #1: The Healthcare Human Capital Epidemic 

In 2023, the industry will continue to face resourcing and performance challenges. Leaders and hiring managers must think differently about how they attract, engage, and retain team members.

The impact of the healthcare human capital epidemic on research and clinical trial teams is complicated. Even potential strategies to address it can be complicated. Stay tuned for an upcoming deep dive into this issue in future articles.

Trend #2: Remote Work Will Continue to be Popular

Many companies have already seen the benefits of remote work in terms of cost savings and productivity. Job candidates also express interest in these opportunities. So, the remote work trend will continue in the research and clinical trial space this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the trend toward remote work. As many organizations work through digital transformations, remote work becomes a more viable option.

However, remote work also brings challenges, such as maintaining team cohesion and ensuring equitable access to resources.

Challenges in Maintaining Team Cohesion

Maintaining team cohesion can be challenging when employees are not physically together.

Companies may need to invest in additional technologies and practices to facilitate remote collaboration, such as:

  • Video conferencing
  • Project management tools
  • Virtual team-building activities
  • And more

Need for Digital Skills

There is also an increasing demand for employees with strong digital skills, such as the ability to:

  • Use collaboration and productivity tools
  • Navigate virtual communication platforms
  • Work effectively in a remote environment

Equity and Accessibility Concerns

Remote work can be challenging for some employees, particularly those who need access to reliable internet connectivity or a suitable home workspace.

Companies may need to consider these equity and accessibility issues when implementing remote work policies and procedures.

Potential Impact on Employment

As more companies adopt remote work, there may be a shift in the available jobs and locations in which they are based. This could lead to changes in the job market and the availability of employment opportunities.

Trend #3: Shifting Talent Acquisition and Retention Strategies

Four members of a clinical trial team looking at paperwork together.

Retention strategies vary significantly from one organization to another. However, companies must adapt to the rise of remote work and the increasing importance of digital skills.

Companies may need to enhance their talent acquisition and retention strategies by:

  • Offering competitive salaries and benefits
  • Offering more flexible work arrangements
  • Providing opportunities for professional development
  • Creating a positive work culture and environment
  • Investing in technologies that facilitate remote collaboration

These aspects of the employee experience help research and clinical trial workers find purpose in their work. They are essential investments in a stronger, more skilled, and professionally satisfied workforce. If done correctly, they can reduce attrition and reduce recruiting costs. 

Trend #4: Artificial Intelligence and Automation

AI and automation will play an increasingly important role in the workplace in 2023. Companies that embrace these technologies can increase efficiency and productivity in conducting research and clinical trials.

Still, they will also need to consider the potential impact on employment and the need for reskilling and upskilling their workforce.

Benefits of AI in The Workplace

On the positive side, AI can automate specific tasks and processes. This frees employees to focus on more complex and rewarding work. It can increase job satisfaction and motivation, potentially leading to higher retention rates.

AI can also improve the accuracy and efficiency of specific HR processes, such as performance evaluations and goal setting. This can create a more positive and supportive work environment.

Potential Downsides of AI

The impact of AI on employee retention will depend on how it is implemented and used within an organization.

Suppose AI is used to replace human workers or automate jobs without considering employees’ needs and concerns. In that case, it could lead to reduced job satisfaction and potentially higher turnover.

It is essential for organizations to consider the potential impacts of AI on their workforce and to implement it ethically and in a way that supports employee well-being.

Trend #5: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Companies increasingly recognize the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. In 2023, we will see more companies implementing DEI initiatives such as:

  • Unconscious bias training
  • Diversity hiring goals
  • Inclusive policies and practices

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) can significantly impact staffing efforts in several ways. Adopting a DEI approach to staffing can help organizations attract and retain a more diverse workforce.

A more diverse workforce brings many benefits, including:

  • Improved decision-making
  • Increased creativity and innovation
  • Better representation of customers and stakeholders

Implementing DEI practices in staffing can also help create a more inclusive and supportive work environment, leading to increased job satisfaction and employee retention. This can be particularly important for underrepresented groups who may face unique challenges in the workplace.

Diversity is particularly critical in clinical research, where representation impacts the conduct of clinical trials.  

2023 In a Nutshell

As 2023 ramps up, we expect competitive organizations to employ numerous creative techniques to attract and retain research and clinical trial professionals. New strategies, methodologies, and operating models will likely emerge to address the new workforce requirements. Their success will only be limited by their breadth of perspective, the measure of creativity employed, and their commitment to continuous innovation. If you’re looking for staffing or opportunities in the clinical research industry, contact Vitalief today.

A Day in the Life of a Clinical Research Coordinator

We recently got the chance to speak with Jeimy Rosado, Clinical Trials Program Manager at Vitalief. Jeimy is new to Vitalief, but she is not new to clinical trials. She brings over a dozen years of practical experience in clinical trial administration. Jeimy is very energetic and clearly enjoys her work. Her enthusiasm is contagious. As we talked, it was obvious that Jeimy is thoughtful about her career path, purpose, and the broader clinical trial profession. In this discussion, she shares some of her practical experiences and perspectives on clinical trial management. 

What is a Clinical Research Coordinator?

The job of a Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC) is to ensure that a clinical trial, be it observational or interventional, is well conducted and follows GCP guidelines. A CRC typically must wear many hats, but screening patients is probably one of the first/most important tasks a CRC conducts because it determines whether a patient is eligible for a particular trial. The inclusion/exclusion criteria must always be reviewed with the Principal Investigator or Sub-Investigator prior to enrolling a patient in a study. 

What does a CRC do in a typical day?

CRCs typically interact with patients, technicians, nurses, physician assistants, doctors, and other administrative personnel. If it is determined that the patient meets the criteria for a study, the CRC will then conduct the Informed Consent Process with the patient and schedule the follow-up telephone/clinic visits to collect the data needed for the trial.

The CRC must then:

  • Enter the data in the relevant systems
  • Ensure that the proper billing is done for the trial
  • Answer queries issued by the sponsor to clean up the data
  • Do daily checks for patients’ adverse events in the Electronic Medical Record system

Because there are so many moving parts involved in conducting a clinical trial, it is the CRC’s job to prioritize his/her daily tasks and the order in which each should be completed.

What do you like the most about being a CRC?

I am happy to be able to help a patient (albeit in a small way) find alternative/better solutions for the treatment of a disease. That is the most rewarding part of the job; feeling as though you are contributing to the greater good and making a difference.

What do you find most challenging?

One of the most challenging aspects of working as a CRC is ensuring that while the clinical trial is being conducted the data collected is of quality and that small things do not fall through the cracks. There are many tasks to be completed on any given day, and the pace can be overwhelming.

Another challenge involves the Principal Investigator’s (PI’s) availability to review, sign, and assess the data and any adverse events that occur while the trial is being conducted. It is crucial that this gets done in a timely fashion as there are deadlines imposed by the sponsor, especially during times when the data needs to be locked to be presented to the FDA.

How did you get into this field? What drew you to it?

I was interested in public health but wanted to take part in a project like the Peace Corps. I decided to take a chance and get involved in the field of Public Health at a time when the job market was awful. I was struggling to find work after the market crash of 2008/2009. I realized that in this field there will always be jobs available and that it is very rewarding if you pursue it for the right reasons.

I have gotten so much professional and personal satisfaction working with clinical staff to help patients. I have learned so much. Because each trial is different and each patient population has different needs, I continue to learn and feel that I gain so much from that experience. So here I am, 13 years later!

What skills do you need to be a good CRC?

Having great interpersonal skills is vital for CRCs to do their job. This is important, as the CRCs will interact with patients, administrative, and clinical personnel daily. Roadblocks will always come up but good communication throughout those interactions always helps. 

What advice would you give to someone entering the field? 

  • Be prepared to be challenged regularly; a CRC’s job is not easy. The job can be stressful but also fulfilling!
  • Work on building relationships with both the clinical and administrative personnel, as they will all be an integral part of your day-to-day activities.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help from your peers, management, the PIs, clinical staff, etc.
  • Feel confident in your ability to make decisions as you will not always have someone readily available to assist you.

Why did you choose Vitalief as the next step in your professional journey?

During my job search, I interviewed with multiple companies and spoke with several hiring managers. I decided to join the Vitalief team because I believe in their mission. The company’s “people first” mantra is why I felt it was the right career move for me.

It is so motivating to know that Vitalief is genuinely invested in creating a thriving career path for each one of its employees. As a functional service provider (FSP) supporting clinical trials, the company is constantly rethinking current practices and envisioning new solutions that drive improved outcomes. I was seeking an entrepreneurial career that would support my personal and professional growth and I found it with Vitalief.

Grow Your Clinical Trial Management Career with Vitalief

Jeimy’s insight and experiences help us to better understand the responsibilities, challenges, and personal and professional advantages of being a Clinical Research Coordinator. It is clear why she is good at her job and making her mark in the clinical trial industry. 

If you are a CRC interested in learning more about Vitalief or joining our team of clinical trial coordinators in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, send a note to joinus@vitalief.com or contact us today.

The Evolving Role of the Clinical Research Coordinator

Clinical Research Coordinators (CRCs) hold a pivotal position and are critical to the success of a clinical trial. These multi-talented team members are often required to be a “Jack-of-All-Trades.” Florence Healthcare describes the CRC as “the “heart” of a clinical trial – the champion of the protocol, the guardian of the patients, the taskmaster of the research team.” They manage numerous details of the trial, such as eligibility criteria and adverse event (AE) reporting, while also being responsible for broader communications with trial participants, principal investigators (PIs), trial sponsors, and external labs.

One of the critical responsibilities of a CRC is to maintain essential information about the conduct of the trial. The Good Clinical Practices (GCP) requires much of this information, and noncompliance can result in institutional review board (IRB) sanctions or withdrawal of study funding. 

There are many other pressures on CRCs. As noted in the 2019 Survey by the Italian Group of Clinical Research Coordinators (GIDM) and conducted among their membership, the average number of studies followed by the interviewees was 12.4 actively enrolling trials, and 10.6 trials closed for recruitment. At the time of the interview, only a few respondents could rely on a stable contract, permanent- (21.4%) or fixed-term (12.5%), while most (66.1%) worked through diverse temporary contracts (e.g., freelance, or project-based contracts). 

Varying contractual obligations with sponsors create extra pressures often exacerbated by a continuous flow of protocol changes throughout the trial. These typically set off a flurry of distributing, updating, and redistributing documents. It’s essential to manage and track all these activities under strict study timelines for compliance purposes.

A Myriad of Clinical Trial Technologies

The clinical research coordinator can be viewed as the hub of a wheel with spokes that connect them to stakeholders across the clinical research ecosystem. They are often required to learn and use different data capture, collaboration, and analysis tools.

Understanding the technologies and their strengths and weaknesses becomes a vital part of the role. As more clinical trials move toward hybrid and virtual designs, CRCs must keep up with evolving technologies used within various trials. For example, CRCs can now acquire informed consent from trial participants remotely via telehealth eConsent. CRCs need to be comfortable using the different enabling technologies to ensure compliance and patient safety.

clinical research coordinator

The Voice of the Clinical Research Coordinator

As clinical trial ecosystems introduce new technologies, CRCs will ensure these new solutions provide adequate support for the trial’s objectives and don’t diminish the team’s abilities to interact with patients or quickly discern issues. Their voice will be important in shaping the future’s use of technology.

For example, telemedicine has offered the ability for healthcare providers to engage and interact with patients remotely. As the “face” of a trial, CRCs often build relationships with patients and other stakeholders that support the study objectives and encourage patients to participate in future trials. Technologies should help in these efforts and not hinder them.

Hybrid and virtual trials, a new and growing focus on patient-centered trials, and increasingly complex trial designs will continue to impact the duties of CRCs. This environment will continue to pose new challenges and new opportunities. The Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) states that a dedicated support system including professional development and Principal Investigator (PI) mentoring will enable CRCs to grow professionally and personally. Organizational support for this critical role will continue to be imperative as the dynamics of clinical trials continue to change.

Contact Vitalief for Clinical Trial Solutions and Support

Running a clinical trial requires hard-working staff and problem-proof solutions and support. Whether you need help hiring staff such as a Clinical Research Coordinator, attracting patients, or managing processes, Vitalief offers a solution. Contact us today to learn how our people-first culture can become an asset to your organization.