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Abstract

Objective: We characterize the current clinical research workforce in Arizona with the goal of identifying possible educational training gaps for the future workforce. Background: The science community, government entities, educational institutions, and community programs continue to advocate for additional funding and resources to educate the bioscience workforce, of which clinical research is a part. However, there is little evidence that additional training and/or education is needed within the clinical research profession. Method: We utilized an electronic survey tool that was designed to solicit workforce data from clinical research professionals actively working or seeking employment in the field of clinical research within the state of Arizona. Distributed by email, the survey was sent to professional research organizations and associations, employment agencies, academic institutions, LinkedIn groups, and through a distribution list held by the Arizona Department of Health. Results were analyzed using a mixed method of descriptive statistics and qualitative analysis. Results: The majority of respondents to the survey were female and were between the ages of 41 and 60. When asked whether respondents thought that clinical research professionals should undergo formalized training through a college or university program that culminates in professional licensure, more than one-third indicated “no,”, while the rest of the respondents indicated “yes” (29.8%) or “no opinion” (33.8%). Respondents who answered “no,” had concerns related to scope of practice, status quo, diversity of practice, and cost. Respondents who answered “yes,” indicated that professional licensure would raise levels of quality and levels of understanding. More than half of respondents indicated that they were required to obtain continuing education and that training in “good clinical practice” and “regulatory requirements” was of most interest. Conclusion: The survey focused on the current educational and training needs of the clinical research workforce, yet provided limited general education and training needs for the future of the profession. In order to determine educational gaps within the profession, distinctions in job titles and responsibilities are required to control for the diversity within the profession. Additional research is needed to identify the expectations of employers, professional organizations, and government agencies so that higher education can prepare the future clinical research workforce with resource allocations. Application: This survey offers a foundation for future research to investigate resource allocation within the clinical research area of bioscience education.