This video response to a viewer question earlier this week revolves around the topic of research study coordinators, their salaries, and how much is appropriate for a raise in a coordinator’s salary given a few specifications that I discussed in this video. Basically, this person has been a coordinator for several years, but has been with this particular company for one year and has not received a raise as of yet. If any of you have any advice for this viewer, just leave your comments below and let us know what an appropriate salary raise would be.
Today’s post is another answer to a fantastic question I received the other day from a research site director who wanted to know how many study coordinators he would need to hire if he had ten studies going on at the moment. I personally like the patients per week metric to best determine how much workload a particular study coordinator can handle, although, since every protocol is unique, every situation will also be different. This will always be a balancing act and will require your site to have a solid inflow of new studies to keep your newly hired study coordinators busy. For getting more studies, check out my inexpensive DVD on this topic. Whatever the case may be, hire slow and, when necessary, fire fast in order to maintain profitability at your research site. Let me know your thoughts!
“What Makes The Perfect Study Coordinator?”
Let me just start by saying that nobody is perfect. We are all human, and we all have strengths and weaknesses. But there are some characteristics that make a strong study coordinator, and here are four key traits that one must possess:
Be Organized: Organization is key, so much so that I will say that if you are a very unorganized person, then clinical research probably isn’t for you. Think about what the word “coordinated” means. It means you are able to do more than one thing at once. Coordinators juggle a LOT.
You are the bridge between the sponsoring companies, the patients, your staff, your principal investigator and the Institutional Review Board (IRB)- and each one of these groups will need and want things from you, and you will need to deliver- sometimes before a deadline hits.
Most coordinators deal with several different studies in various phases and stages- another reason that you must be highly organized so you know which end is up. Have several folders (both physical and electronic) that are clearly labeled, write things down, use sticky notes, post notes on your personal bulletin board and so forth.
Communicate: A strong coordinator will communicate often and quickly. Questions will be asked by patients, sponsors will ask you for data, IRBs will ask you for documents and so forth. You should provide answers in a timely manner, and seek out the answer if you do not know it. Be accessible. Check you email and phone messages often and reply to them.You do not want anyone, especially patients- to feel ignored as this can pose a safety risk; and it is also bad customer service. Keep your staff and principal investigator in loop as far as study progress goes and alert them of any significant developments. Initiate meetings. I know that is sometimes easier said than done. I have often said that getting a group of doctors together is like herding cats- next to impossible! But give it a try. Even if you cannot meet in person, you can communicate via email, phone and even virtual meetings.
Be Flexible: In research, sometimes the unexpected happens. A patient will have a serious adverse event, a staff member will quit, a sponsor will terminate a study- all of these will have you scrambling and you may have to put other tasks aside for the time being. You must be able to “switch gears.” Be flexible with making time for your principal investigator, patients and study monitor visits. Some studies require flexibility as far as enrolling on “off hours” like evenings and weekends. Being able to travel for investigator meetings is another need for flexibility.
Be Interested: It is easier to come to a job if you find it interesting. It is not unusual at times for a job to seem routine or tiresome. So, find ways to keep an interest in your field. Attend continuing education events, read journals about research, buy a book about research, or even watch a film about research or researchers. Network with others who do what you do- either in person or online. Keep a sense of humor and a positive outlook. Think about the “big picture” – that you are part of something big, which is discovery and improving patients’ lives.
To learn more about becoming a study coordinator, check out this inexpensive DVD on this topic.
Today’s video is another Google Hangout I conducted along with fellow Clinical Trials Guru Producers Darshan Kulkarni and Patrick Stone. During this super awesome interview, we discussed adaptive clinical trials, or the type of clinical trials that can change based on real time data analysis. For another blog post that I wrote on this topic, click here. Darshan in this video argues that adaptive trials may actually be too burdensome for the trend to actually catch on, while Pat and I discuss many of the potential benefits that these trials can and do provide to study participants. It’s none the less an interesting discussion that needs to be had and we expect to hear from you guys in the comments section below!
There comes a time in most careers when it’s time for a change. Few people want to stay exactly where they are for a bunch of legitimate reasons. Everyone wants to change the view sooner or later.
A Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration can change a nurse’s direction or the path for a department supervisor. The change can mean more money, more respect, more opportunity, and more personal satisfaction. It’s not that you have been unhappy or unsuited for what you have been doing, but people mature and their needs evolve.
Changing industry -
A typical Healthcare Administrator or Manager will supervise the delivery of healthcare systems. As such, they design, coordinate, and direct the delivery through other healthcare professionals. Such Administrators may specialize in a clinical area or manage an entire system or facility. There are as many opportunities as there are medical fields and as the changing demographics demand.
You have surely found yourself juggling more tasks than in the past, but successful delivery cannot be left to jugglers in the future. Diversified demands are multiplying, and information is increasing at an unmanageable speed. Integration is the new skill, the ability to deconstruct work and integrate information, systems and technology. Other pulls will insist on efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Smaller facilities frequently have able administrators who have risen through the system. With seniority and personal commitment, they mature in their ability to manage the tasks of the facility. Their tenure has immersed them in the clinical setting’s operations and financials, and their good-will has made them good people managers.
However, healthcare is changing as an industry. Small walk-in clinics are popping up everywhere. They have relieved physicians of the “retail” administration, but staff, purchasing, billing, and customers need a new kind of leadership.
Other small facilities are opening as out-patient surgery, physical and rehabilitation therapy centers, geriatric care and early Alzheimer centers, and assisted care and hospice environments are rapidly expanding. As standalone facilities, they are able to delegate some systems, such as billing, but they have assumed larger responsibilities in nursing, medical records, HIPAA administration, and insurance relations.
Acutely different training -
This increase in generalist duties requires acutely different training and experience. They need an education built upon a base of degreed education and field experience. They need certification that administrators have pursued and completed new studies in how to integrate, collaborate, and lead. For some, this may mean nothing more than learning new software and database applications. For others, it may mean deeper research into healthcare institutional experiences. For all, it would mean completing a structured educational experience that would expose you to new things, ideas, systems, and people. And, hopefully, it would teach you to find the best in these avenues to build a best path for yourself.
Some new avenues -
- Clinical Managers are typically department managers who multi-task with policies and procedures, personnel and work quality, administration of reports and budgets, and interface with other department managers.
- Health Information Managers have responsibility for patient records, their, security, and confidentiality. With medical practice increasingly dependent on data and virtual record keeping, Information Managers must juggle hardware, software, and legal systems.
- Group Medical Practice Administrators work with physicians, taking on larger policy making roles than they have as Office Managers. The larger the physicians’ group the bigger the job.
- Medical and Health Services Managers perform similar duties in managed-care settings with larger staffs to manage. They may also be responsible for community outreach and preventive care.
Think of yourself with a new title on your door and business card: Administrator, Director, VP. A Master in Healthcare Administration has more options.
Dee enjoys freelance writing/blogging in her spare time and also does some ghost writing as well.
Today’s video is in response to a viewer question I received regarding tracking account receivables at a small but busy site. In the viewer’s case, she is a study coordinator who has also been assigned the task of tracking revenue at her site. While I try to offer some pointers in this post, there is no perfect solution to this problem, just whatever works and the user is comfortable with. For a detailed breakdown on this, check out an interview I did with Ana Marquez on this topic and other financial aspects of clinical trials.