Virtual academy for CRCs launched in Singapore
The Singapore Clinical Research Institute (SCRI) Academy, Singapore’s first national training platform for clinical research coordinators (CRCs), has been recently launched at the
SCRI 3rd Annual Scientific Symposium held at Conrad Centennial Singapore.
Together with key public healthcare clusters, the Academy will launch its first programme in early 2018 which will focus on CRCs with less than a year of experience to help them effectively fulfil their roles. A series of workshops will be conducted to provide CRCs with a holistic platform that will allow them to convert theory into applied knowledge.
In line with this, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has allocated a
$35 million budget under the Research, Innovation, Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan which will subsidize the salaries of 100 CRCs over the next five years and enable the implementation of national training and certification programmes.
“[Being a] CRC was not a formally recognized career path until now,” said Dr Teoh Yee Leong, SCRI Chief Executive Officer. “A CRCs salary is only paid during the duration of a study. [Upon study completion], the CRC needs to look for another doctor who has a new research grant,” Teoh explained further, hence the lack of career stability for CRCs.
“[W]ith the MOH funding now, 100 CRCs [will] have a stable salary for the next five years,” added Teoh.
“SCRI will also work with Workforce Singapore (WSG) on a professional conversion programme targeting mid-career switchers with no clinical research background,” said Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State for Health.
According to Teoh, CRCs in the past had a Nursing background. In the last 5–10 years however, the trend has shifted towards the Life Sciences, which requires additional training.
The Academy aims to address the learning gaps and bridge both Nursing and Life Sciences backgrounds to strengthen the theoretical and practical skillsets of CRCs. As CRCs handle the bulk of research activities, the Academy will provide an enhanced training framework to support their career advancement and equip them with skills that could effectively address the challenges involved in performing their duties, said Teoh.
Senior CRC Yip Robyn shares some of the challenges that goes with the job. “One of the major challenges is managing the expectations of sponsors [and] investigators,” she said. Patient follow-up is also crucial, she added, as it is the CRCs’ responsibility to ensure that patients are following protocol and retained for the duration of a trial.
However, Yip added that dealing with patients is more of a reward than a challenge. “Seeing that the treatment potentially benefited [the patients] is rewarding,” Yip said, to which junior CRC Tan Sili agrees. “[The] interaction with patients is meaningful … Knowing that my efforts are going to help provide better healthcare in the future … and with patients willing to participate … [we will be able to] improve healthcare together,” said Tan.
Overall, the SCRI Academy aims to provide a structured career path for CRCs, who are critical components of clinical research. “[A] CRC is the most important [person] to help [the investigator] in the study. The study cannot work if [there is no] CRC,” underscored Teoh.