[Q&A] Competency-Based Approaches to Staff Hiring, Management and Advancement – Part 2

April Schultz
November 26th, 2018

During our recent webinar, Competency-Based Approaches to Staff Hiring, Management and Advancement, Beth Harper, President of Clinical Performance Partners, Inc., and the Workforce Innovation Officer for the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP), explored the theory and practice of competency-based approaches for hiring, retaining and helping clinical research staff advance. In her recent Q&A article, Beth answered attendee questions about clinical research certifications, competency evaluation, experience levels and more. Here, she responds to even more questions on performance evaluations, salaries, role-based competency guidelines and more.

 Do you equate competency testing with annual performance evaluation?

This was a really interesting discussion during the competency workshop at the 2018 Fall Onsemble Conference hosted by Forte. A number of organizations shared approaches they use to empower individuals to take a more self-directed approach to their performance evaluations. Essentially, management leaves it up to the individual to be proactive and set up time to review their performance when they believe they have achieved (and can provide evidence to support) the competencies that would be required to advance to the next job tier or level. I have also been hearing this more broadly in other discussions with managers in the industry. 

 Is the competency framework available to use at our site?

The generic Joint Task Force Clinical Trial Competency Framework is available to the public and can be accessed here. All of the role-specific competency guidelines developed by ACRP are also available to the public and can be downloaded here. 

The Development, Implementation and Assessment of Novel Training in Domain-based Competencies, or “DIAMOND” project, is a collaborative effort by the University of Michigan, University of Rochester, The Ohio State University and Tufts University to provide competency-based education and training to clinical research professionals and is another great resource. 

 How do you align competencies with salaries?

This is another excellent but a bit more of a complicated question. Several of the CTSAs have taken this endeavor on, so I encourage you to learn more about what organizations like Duke and the Medical University of South Carolina are doing. Both have good information on their websites and the team at Duke has published more widely on this topic. The Clinical Trial Competency website and the DIAMOND websites are also great resources, so I encourage you to periodically check back there for updates on all competency-related initiatives.

 Do you recommend a master’s in clinical trials management to advance to manager or is this not needed?

Personally, I am always an advocate of more formal education – I don’t think you can ever go wrong with continuing your education.  The type of advanced degree is really an individual choice based on your interests and goals.  This also depends on what type of undergraduate degree you have and what the expectations are for the management positions.  I would encourage those interested in clinical research-specific degrees to do their due diligence on the programs…take a close look at the curricula to ensure that you will be expanding and enhancing your competencies for the roles that you are interested in.  You may find that some programs are more focused on leadership and professionalism types of competencies which would be a great asset whereas others may focus more on the other competency domains in which case other types of advanced degrees (MBA, Research Administration, etc.).

 You talked about Clinical Research Coordinators, but what about Clinical Research Nursing?

From ACRP’s perspective, we felt it was important to address the non-clinical care aspects of research coordinator roles because other organizations have focused on clinical research nursing competencies. The ANA, NIH and ONS who have more expertise in this area, have developed competency guidelines for clinical research nursing roles and you can learn more here:

 Are similar competency guidelines available on other clinical research positions such as regulatory affairs coordinators, research managers/administrators or other roles?

Currently, ACRP has developed competency guidelines for CRAs/Study Monitors and Clinical Research Coordinators. We are actively working on competency guidelines for Principal Investigators. We are continuing to develop other job-specific competency guidelines for different roles and we welcome all of these suggestions for different roles that we should address. That said, other organizations are starting to develop similar guidelines such as for clinical research nurses. I encourage members of other professional associations to advocate for similar projects based on the clinical trial competency framework as well.

Want more answers?

Watch the free, on-demand webinar, Competency-Based Approaches to Staff Hiring, Management and Advancement, to learn more about competency-based approaches for hiring, retaining and helping your clinical research staff advance. Watch the recording today!