Clinical Researcher—June 2023 (Volume 37, Issue 3)
Christine Senn, PhD, CCRC, CPI, FACRP, 2023 Chair of the Association Board of Trustees
The ACRP 2023 conference did not disappoint! Nearly 1,400 attendees were flying high after our frankly joyous and inspirational time together in Dallas in late April and early May. As I first walked into the main level of the convention center, an overhead banner proclaiming it was “The Place to Be for Clinical Research Professionals” set the stage for what proved to be absolutely true.
Many wonderful conferences happen throughout the year in our industry, and I am a fan of countless of them. It is ACRP, though, that lives a mission that I hold dear: “representing, supporting, and advocating for clinical research professionals.” Frankly, the clinical research enterprise needs advocates and, more pointedly, it needs us to advocate for why ours is a true profession.
We range from trainees to seasoned professionals with varied specialties of knowledge. I am a diehard advocate of ACRP certification because it showcases a person as a clinical research professional. A wonderful moment for me was when ACRP expanded its certifications beyond clinical research coordinators, associates, and principal investigators to include the tens of thousands of people who do this work alongside those heroes from their places in the lab, pharmacy, administration, regulatory bodies, contracts and budget departments, along with protocol design, statistics, and so much more. That’s precisely what it means to be “the place” for clinical research professionals! All of us, in every domain, are represented and have the opportunity to earn trust-engendering certifications once a solid level of understanding is achieved.
ACRP also supports our industry’s important endeavors—such as striving for greater diversity in both our workforce and in patient recruitment. Last month, in the days leading up to the May 20 celebration of Clinical Trials Day, former Association Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Dave Morin, former Association Board of Trustees Treasurer Sergio Armani, and Scott Chatterton donned snazzy cycling gear and flexed their calves across nearly 355 miles of trails in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the D.C. area to raise $79,375 from more than 120 corporate sponsors and individual donors for ACRP diversity initiatives through the third annual Ride4DEI. Joining in the effort on the West Coast was Justin Chia, who essentially mirrored the trio’s journey on a variety of California trails.
Donations to Ride4DEI supported 20 event scholarships for ACRP 2023 attendees from underrepresented groups selected by the ACRP Diversity Advisory Council, and such backing is expected to make scholarships available again next year! I was also delighted to see a great number of friends from the Latinos in Clinical Research and Black Women in Clinical Research organizations show up in Dallas this year. The energy was electric!
Another critical endeavor concerns our workforce in general. The number of clinical trials, as well as their complexity, increases year after year, and there simply are not enough people to fill all the jobs available. Every conference in our industry fosters learning and offers forums to share best practices, and I certainly heard exclamations about how great the ACRP 2023 sessions and networking opportunities were as I walked by other inspired attendees. What I also had the privilege of experiencing, though, was an all-day workshop of leaders in the field coming together to share and brainstorm ideas about how to develop career paths into clinical research at the high school, college, and university levels, as well as how to train newcomers most effectively so we develop our workforce to meet the needs of our industry. There is truly wonderful work being done in workforce development at ACRP.
I started this note saying the time at the conference was joyous and inspirational. Happy, excited faces brimmed both in person and on social media, with an infectious buzz! I witnessed so many people say how energized they were, saw them make plans to join Chapters and attend more events, and heard them express great interest in keeping conversations going beyond the conference. In that way, I felt surrounded by the inspired energy of others.
My own inspiration came from the number of attendees during and after the conference who asked me how they could get involved as an ACRP volunteer. It takes hundreds of volunteers each year to decide the conference’s content (Content Committee), handle ethical issues (Ethics Committee), find and interview candidates to serve on our boards (Nominations Committee), actually serve as trustees (both on the Association Board of Trustees and on the Academy Board of Trustees), and write questions for the various certification exams. Opportunities abound to both increase your knowledge and promote the knowledge of others, and the nominations period for service in 2024 is now open through the end of June for the boards and until September 15 for committees!
Together, there is much we can accomplish for all the stakeholders in our clinical research enterprise in the second half of 2023 and in the already-bubbling buildup to our ACRP 2024 conference in Anaheim, Calif. I hope to see many of you again, or for the first time, as more ACRP events come along this year, or next spring as I get to see what attending the conference is like as an immediate-past Chair of the Association Board of Trustees. In the meantime, you have my thanks and encouragement for your dedication to helping others in our industry fly high and to fulfilling the mission set before us.