Trouble for trials - The worrying state of the research nurse workforce

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Elsevier BV


Clinical research nurses (CRNs) are a specialty of Registered Nurses that are highly trained to support the breadth of clinical trial operations and manage participant care in community settings new to research. CRNs are uniquely equipped with a scope of practice that permits product administration, participant assessments, and data management. As clinical trials and their management expand beyond traditional, site-based operations models to decentralized or remote models, the need becomes great to ensure adequate staffing of experienced research professionals, such as CRNs. However, the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey reported consecutive contractions in the number of CRNs practicing in the U.S in both 2017 and 2020 surveys when compared to previous reports in 2013 and 2015. The Society of Clinical Research Associates 2020 Salary Survey further described much of the current CRN workforce as nearing or at retirement age, raising concern for additional reductions. This workforce contraction tangents one of the highest volumes of clinical trial starts in modern history, prompting concern for adequate staffing of CRNs to facilitate continued examination of novel therapies and devices. Complex investigative products and evolving safety profiles coupled with an increased focus on community participant enrollment requires CRN involvement in heightened safety monitoring and interdisciplinary communication among clinical providers and research collaborators. This paper examines the contributory factors of the CRN workforce contraction and response efforts at professional and organizational system levels.


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Research nursing, Workforce, Clinical trial issue


Johnson, E. (2022). Trouble for trials-The worrying state of the research nurse workforce. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 120, 106878.
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