Good research sites get the job done, but great sites are transcendent. What does it take to transform your facility from good to great? Imagine your site exuding competence, collecting impeccable data, winning more trials, and increasing your revenue (along with your salary) from higher enrollment, improved retention, and faster results. What lessons can we learn from successful businesses outside of research? To transcend our performance at our sites and reach these goals, how can clinical research sites TIP toward success?
Physicians and scientists conducting clinical trials focus on data integrity, patient care, safety, strong standard operating procedures (SOPs), and running an efficient business. These objectives are critically important, but what if this focus is misplaced? What if we are missing the most important key indicator that transforms a good site into a great one? That key metric is talent–and implementing a new paradigm for hiring, supporting, and developing a great team will lead to less turnover and outstanding results.
Developing Talent for Long-Term Success
Great business leaders and authors from Jack Welch (the former CEO of General Electric), to Jim Collins (the author of Good to Great), to Herb Kelleher (founder and CEO of Southwest Airlines), and countless other business icons emphasize the importance of hiring and training amazing people and allowing them to take the business to new heights. By hiring passionate and committed individuals, and providing them with the support and professional training they need on an ongoing basis, you can build an exceptional research organization. Collins describes how companies making the leap from good to great are the ones that “get the right people on the bus.” How do we accomplish this?
Avoiding the Trap of Mediocrity
Too many coordinators at the site level say they “fell into research.” Many quit early on. A common career trajectory for research professionals is a person gets hired as a research assistant (RA) because they “know someone.” These RAs “grow up” under the more senior clinical research coordinators (CRCs) and learn in a sink-or-swim scenario. Trainers are overtasked and do not have time to dedicate to new staff. On-the-job training is frequently rushed, haphazard, and specific to that one research organization.
The varying level of knowledge, competency, and professionalism among clinical researchers is an issue that plagues our industry. CRCs are on the front lines of studies ensuring that the rights, safety, and well-being of participants are protected and the data collected are credible. Coordinators are critical to our success in research, yet as our industry grows and the pace of innovation accelerates, how can we support them sufficiently so they can conduct complex research trials?
TIP Toward Greater Results
The TIP model for success–Training, Investment, and Performance— is one of continuous improvement. To shift to this new paradigm, we must commit to training our team and have it become part of an organization’s DNA and value system. In research, we are constantly learning as we initiate new protocols. Without a commitment to ongoing training and support of our team, we will never achieve excellence. This culture shift requires investment; we cannot afford to cut corners on training. While this is an easy line item to ignore or skimp on, an investment in professional training significantly pays an organization back in numerous ways–some measurable and others not. As Einstein said, “not everything that counts can be counted…” Be wary of cheap, in-house training or online training that champions low costs at the expense of value. These shortcuts have been repeatedly demonstrated as inadequate. The rewards a site reaps from trained talent are transformative and dramatically improve performance. When we invest and support our employees, data collection improves, speed and quality multiply, and results are realized sooner. Developing a passionate, trained team leads to higher performance, improved job satisfaction, greater profitability, and fewer errors.
The Next Generation of Intentional Clinical Researchers Shows its Passion!
Hiring passionate individuals and creating a culture of learning and professionalism is within reach of every research site. Our industry needs to look beyond the fatal crutch of trying to find new hires with “two years of experience.” In a growing field, we must onboard new talent. Kelleher says, “You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.” The time has come to elevate our standards so that we hire candidates with great attitudes and tremendous potential.
The Secret is Out
All over the Phoenix metro area, renowned research institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Dignity Health, Synexus, Celerion, HonorHealth, and the University of Arizona are taking advantage of world-class training by hiring graduates from Clinical Research Fastrack’s new pool of talent. Last year, Fastrack started branching out with its training to Dallas and Atlanta; currently, graduates of the program work in more than 15 states from Florida to Washington to California.
The Fastrack to Success
Clinical Research Fastrack is a progressive, ambitious training organization based in Scottsdale, Ariz., that is reinventing the entry-level researcher and introducing bright, competent, highly trained individuals to our workforce. Candidates are screened for the program and we identify those with excellent backgrounds, transferrable skills, and passion to work in the industry. The Fastrack program enrolls applicants with potential, and then provides its students with an intensive boot camp training program led by a team of practicing industry experts.
Tipping the Scale
Training your staff and investing in their development is the key to tipping your research site from good to great. Welch said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Great leadership utilizes TIP to improve results, run efficiently, and earn more revenue. If you want to hire highly trained, passionate, entry-level coordinators, here is one final tip: Fastrack may have just the talented, research-ready candidate for your site.