Empowering the Clinical Research Coordinator in Academic Medical Centers

Mayo Clin Proc Innov Qual Outcomes. 2020 Dec 25;5(2):265-273. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocpiqo.2020.09.014. eCollection 2021 Apr.


Objective: To identify factors associated with job satisfaction and retention, we surveyed a large cohort of clinical research coordinators (CRCs). In recent years, the clinical research coordinator has changed from a semi-permanent role to one that has a high turnover rate. The CRCs are integral to clinical research and instability in this role can cause patient stress and increase the burden on clinical teams through unnecessary delegation of resources toward hiring and retraining new talent. The cultural shift toward CRCs as a temporary position may be driven by the perspective that the role positions an individual for other health care careers, but understanding what influences low retention rates are necessary.

Methods: A survey containing 13 multiple choice or open-ended and 32 Likert scale questions was distributed to previous and current CRCs using REDCap. The questionnaires were self-administered and completed over a 12-month period between October 11, 2017, and September 16, 2018.

Results: A total of 85 CRCs completed the study. From the 32 potential predictors of retention, we investigated 9 significant predictors: salary, work setting, understanding the role, level of CRC, understanding protocol development, actively engaged principal investigator (PI), having a collaborative role with PI, feeling respected by PI, and having a close relationship with PI. Adequate salary, greater respect, collaboration, and engagement from the PI were significantly associated with higher retention. Surprisingly, greater workload and lack of opportunity for professional growth were not associated with retention.

Conclusion: The CRCs who feel respected and engaged by the PI and are adequately compensated are more likely to have higher job satisfaction and retention.

Keywords: CRC, clinical research coordinator; OR, odds ratio; PI, principal investigator.