The Importance of Training for Clinical Trial Data Professionals
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin
I’m passionate about training and mentoring, and this quote by Benjamin Franklin guides how I approach each process.
Training and mentorship are critical to ensuring our clinical data management team, clinical data analysts, and statistical programming personnel are qualified to perform the tasks that impact the quality of clinical trials. We all engage in training of some sort – whether it’s webinars, online courses, training programs, or professional conferences. What is most important is how we apply these learnings to our everyday work, and how we share these learnings with others.
Often, our training is focused on documenting the various training programs our staff members attend. Effective training is so much more than a documentation process. Effective training incorporates opportunities for staff to practice newly developed skills, apply learnings, and understand the impact of their actions.
While you have to start with what is needed, over time the focus should be on explaining why something should be done. Understanding the “why” leads to more knowledge and understanding among the staff. Understanding empowers them to contribute on their own with less oversight.
Three ways to enhance your training programs are:
1. Apply the philosophy of “see one, teach one, do one”
This is a great approach, which builds confidence and competency in the person learning the new skill. This approach requires the trainer to communicate clearly what needs to be done. The trainer first performs the action alone. Next, the trainer and trainee perform the action together. Finally, the trainee performs the action alone, with guidance from their instructor.
2. Align senior staff to work with junior staff
We use this approach at eClinical Solutions and it provides our senior staff with opportunities to grow their management skills as they oversee the development and growth of our junior staff members. The senior staff member reviews the work of the junior staff member and provides constructive feedback and training based on their review. Our senior staff members also lead specialized training sessions on important topics and tasks.
3. Create a company culture that supports training
Companies that are serious about training and mentorship demonstrate this through their actions–it’s as if training and mentorship are a part of the company’s DNA. Relationships and processes have to be in place to support staff members engaging in training sessions and work reviews. Companies also need to define what a successful mentor looks like and collect metrics to measure success.
Reach out to your Quality Assurance (QA) team to help with your training and mentoring programs for clinical trial professionals. The QA team can help define training requirements for a specific position, develop a training plan for a specific staff member to help them meet the requirements for a new position, and institute a process to document everything involved.
There are also many opportunities for training and mentorship with professional associations such as the Society for Quality Assurance, Society for Clinical Data Management, and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. These professional associations offer mentoring programs, as well as opportunities to learn about life science industry issues and to practice skills through training and volunteer opportunities.
I’m very proud to have been recently elected to the SQA Education Committee where I will have an impact on training and mentorship opportunities for QA professionals. I’ll be at the SQA Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida, beginning on April 12, 2015. If you are attending, I hope to see you there!
Blog post by contributing author Cheryl McCarthy
Photo Credit: Texas A&M University
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