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Opportunities to Address Clinical Research Workforce Diversity Needs for 2010
What training programs and career tracks appear to foster the development and retention of women and minorities in the clinical research workforce?
What research related to evaluation of existing training efforts needs to be funded? What are the important measures of outcome?
FINDINGS OF THE STUDY
The benefits of increased diversity in the clinical research workforce include increased clinical trial accrual of underrepresented minorities, more robust hypothesis generation for research questions relating to women and minority populations, and the potential for improved understanding and application of the results of clinical research to minority communities.
Unfortunately the study scope, as framed by the questions in the study charge, was much broader than that answerable by the available body of data. The committee found that the first three issues in the study charge could not be fully answered because of the lack of data on the clinical research workforce. This absence of data severely limited the ability of the committee to address questions regarding supply and demand and outcome measures for existing training efforts. Data on the private sector workforce are also not available, similarly limiting the committee’s ability to address the study charge about the needs of the private sector.
The data collection needed for accurate characterization of the clinical research workforce is limited by the lack of a common definition of clinical research used across all sectors. The use of standard definitions among federal agencies, careful tracking of the subsets of clinical research, and systematic evaluation of the outcomes of existing training efforts would allow better monitoring of the clinical research workforce.
Physicians have less interest in research careers, and fewer trainees are opting for an M.D.-Ph.D. More women are earning their M.D.s, but fewer are opting for research careers despite continuing interest in academic positions. Underrepresented minorities earning M.D.s have increased numerically, but they are an infinitesimal proportion of the historical increase in M.D.s overall. The shortage of nursing faculty severely restricts the training of future nurses for clinical research and practice. Various training programs and career tracks foster the development and retention of women and minorities in the clinical research workforce, but more are needed for significant improvements in this area. Insufficient data on the clinical workforce limit understanding of its supply and demand, and an