I have only been in the industry for a few years, but my job allows me to have daily conversations with site owners, principal investigators and clinical research professionals all over the world. How did I get to point to where I can keep up in conversation with these people?
Never. Stop. Learning.
I ask questions, I take notes, I review those notes, and pass that knowledge along to others.
Here is one of my big takeaways. Many of the people I speak with are stuck in the weeds of operating or working at a clinical research site. Many of these people don’t often have sources outside of their own research site where they can brainstorm ideas on how to improve their business. Maybe you are in a network and you have other sites to talk to and compare notes with, but beyond that, where do you go to talk to other professionals who are also trying to improve their businesses?
Clinical Trials Conferences!
Not just any conferences, but the ones that focus on clinical trial sites. Think about it, you have hundreds or even thousands of people there who all do what you do. These clinical research professionals probably have the same problems as you, or they have had those problems and have found ways to fix them. These are conversations that you need to have.
Beyond just the conversations, there are sessions led by innovators and experts who are there to teach clinical trial professionals exactly how to improve their sites. I can't even begin to tell you how beneficial these have been to my professional growth within the industry. I have made a lot of great networking connections, learned more than I could have ever imagined, and even made a few friends along the way.
Here is a list of, in my personal opinion, the three best conferences for clinical trial sites (in no particular order). It is hard for me to rank them when they’re so unique and do such a great job with what they do.
The first conference I ever attended within the industry was ACRP (The Association of Clinical Research Professionals). When I arrived, I felt welcomed immediately by their staff, who have always been extremely easy to work with. At ACRP, you can expect to talk with people of all roles within the industry-- from coordinators to clinical trial executives, and from CROs to sponsors. ACRP’s continuing education sessions and workshops focus on a wide variety of topics including leadership, process, technology, monitoring, project management, and career growth. The conference is always held in a major city that’s easily accessible-- the past three years have been Seattle, Washington DC, and Nashville.
Global Site Solutions Summit (SCRS)
SCRS is a blast! I think that the thing that stands out for me the most about SCRS is the fact that they seem to not take themselves too seriously (I mean this in the most complimentary way possible). This is one of the only clinical trial conferences where you will look around and see attendees in casual clothes. They make an effort to bring sites and sponsors together at events and get them to interact with one another through sessions and workshops.
Nobody describes Global Site Solutions Summit better than their founder, Christine Pierre saying,
"We are all aware that as an industry we currently have an unsustainable model – for all stakeholders. Sites represent the largest number of providers to the industry; therefore, their impact on this process cannot be underestimated. Sites have long been the silent partner in the research enterprise, and SCRS ensures they are no longer passive participants by catalyzing dialogue with industry leaders and working to find solutions through collaboration."
Christine unfortunately passed away this past year and anyone who was fortunate enough to meet her has lost a very special person. This year, there will be a celebration of her life at the conference. Looking forward to it.
MAGI is a unique clinical trial conference experience. It is smaller, more intimate, and broken up into two different conferences a year-- MAGI East and MAGI West. Norm and his team do a great job finding great speakers with vast experience to speak upon. From my experiences sitting in sessions and talking to participants, if you are looking for help with budgets, or anything finance, this is the conference for you. This is another conference where the staff is extremely helpful and welcoming. I have been to the past four MAGI conferences and leave there learning something valuable each time.
With any of these conferences, you can expect to leave informed and empowered to better your clinical research site. Choose a conference (even if it is not on this list), go to sessions, happy hours, and dinners. Talk to vendors, enjoy yourself and try to learn as much as you can.
If you are at any of these conferences, come and find me! I would love to have a conversation and learn more about you and your work. I can show you around and even introduce you to people you might gain some value from.
Eric draws on experience selling ERP and CRM software and most recently worked as Regional Sales Manager for CLUBWAKA. He holds a BA from Westfield State University.