Study distinguishes top factor for life span in clinical research coordinator positions

Study distinguishes top factor for life span in clinical research coordinator positions


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  • Source: Vanderbilt University Medical Center

  • Date: 06 Mar,2021

Danielle Buchanan, BS, clinical translational research coordinator III in the Department of Neurology, and Daniel Claassen, MD, MS, chief of the Division of Psychological Disorders and associate professor of Neurology, found the top element for retention is a close working relationship between clinical research coordinators (CRCs) and the study’s principal investigator that emphasizes respect and collaboration. Salary followed as another factor for retention among 85 current or former CRCs who responded to a REDCap poll sent to 113 individuals from over 30 academic health centers across the U.S.

More so, principal investigators are encouraged that establishing collegial relationships through hands-on participation in clinical research trials were the best predictors of retention.

They published results in”Empowering the Clinical Research Coordinator in Academic Medical Centers” from the Mayo Clinical Proceedings: Innovation, Quality & Outcomes.

“Over the last 10 years I have noticed that hiring clinical research coordinators can become a challenge to principal investigators. I feel like the role is transient, in part because academic institutions haven’t invested in the function as long-term, respected places. There’s no clear trajectory for progress and the salary structure is not incentivized,” said Claassen.

Clinical research coordinators are the lynchpin of research teams. For patients, they are the constant face across a sometimes-difficult journey. We wanted to know what it takes to make this coordinator role a career, and not a steppingstone to another position. What does it take for coordinators to stay and thrive in an academic medical center? Can we transition from an ‘in-and-out role’ to a stable, honored position that has a trajectory in an academic system?”

Danielle Buchanan, Senior Author

The pair set out to analyze what entices coordinators to stay in the function because while the position previously had longevity, it’s evolved into a stopover role for people early in their careers. The transience carries costs for the research team and institution because filling the spot requires training and recruiting.

“Ultimately, we’re here for the individual, especially the ones with chronic devastating diseases. When there is turnover, it’s detrimental to the patient. I put together the survey because we wanted to look for that missing piece that tells us why people leave, or what makes them stay,” said Buchanan, first writer.

“I need to elevate the prestige of the place so PIs, administrators and patrons understand that coordinators are more than worker bees. We are ambassadors of hope to patients and families, and I’d really like to change the mindset that this is not a long-term career path,” said Buchanan.

Journal reference:

Buchanan, D.A., et al. (2020) Empowering the Clinical Research Coordinator in Academic Medical Centers. Mayo Clinic Proceedings.


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