Recruitment is crucial to my role as a Recruitment Officer – without any volunteers we would be unable to make ground-breaking and potentially life altering discoveries in terms of new treatments and medication.
Being a Recruitment Officer involves being in regular communication with sponsors (who fund our studies), our core study team, other research teams and any potential volunteers in an effort to encourage people to become involved in our research studies. Carefully compiling reports on recruitment and managing our expansive research database are also vital to the success of my role.
My day begins with handover at 08:00. This is where all of the team meet up to go over what is planned for the rest of the day and is a good way of understanding how each person’s role links up. For example, later today I will be attending a clinic at another hospital with one of our research nurses in order to raise awareness of our dementia study and to answer any questions that people may have.
Following handover, I have to look through our two email inboxes; we have one for general contact and another for anything to do with our Consent 4 Consent Database. The database holds the information of over 3000 volunteers (someone interested in taking part in research) who have registered their consent to be contacted when we feel they are potentially eligible for a recruiting study. Anyone who is signed up to the database can request to have their information removed or updated. It is therefore vital that the database is kept as up to date as possible.
The rest of my morning is spent contacting volunteers to see if they are interested in taking part in any of our research studies. The studies we offer range from testing a new study medication to trying out a new form of an existing procedure or treatment. As we offer studies that involve taking a new study drug, part of my role is to ensure that participants have read all of the information provided, meet the basic eligibility criteria and are suitable and happy to attend for screening.
Today there are three volunteers that need to be booked in for a screening appointment (health check). Before booking anyone in, I must ensure that they are aware of any restrictions and requirements. For example, some trials may require the participant to fast prior to being screened.
Following booking in these appointments, I need to make sure that these activities are carefully recorded in individual reports for each study to allow the recruitment team to monitor the journey of volunteers and study performance. Anonymised information from these records may be sent to the sponsor for review. This information can allow us to identify trends that enable us to amend our recruitment plan to reflect these. For example, for a psoriasis study many interested potential patients were not able to take part as they did not meet the Body Mass Index (BMI) requirements. A discussion was held with both the Principal Investigator (in charge of the overall conduct of the study at that particular site) and Sponsor (fund a site to run their research study) to amend the BMI and as a result many previously excluded patients were enrolled on to the study.
This afternoon, I am attending the memory clinic at Broadgreen Hospital in an effort to recruit to our dementia study. To set this up, we have to form a good relationship with the doctor who runs the clinic so that they are happy for us to approach their patients. This involves discussing our study briefly with any potential service users in an effort to ease them in to the possibility of taking part. I feel that explaining a brief outline of the study first before sending them a fairly in-depth patient information leaflet is less likely to put people off from taking part in research and is therefore a much needed step in my role.
There are many other aspects to my role that are done on a daily basis such as monitoring our social media accounts. Part of having these accounts is to reach a new audience of people who may not be aware of our unit and the research that we do. Designing a new poster involves finding an image that matches the condition of the target study and combining it with clear text that explains to those interested where to find more information. As we are a Phase 1 accredited unit, all of our posts have to be approved by an ethics committee. Being Phase 1 accredited by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) means that our trials are as safe as possible and that we can have the confidence in our own ability to run trials to a high standard. This committee reviews all posts that I send across for approval. Once approved, they can then be posted on our social media accounts.
I also need to ensure that once a volunteer initially consents to taking part in a study that we continue to provide a high level of service. For example, explaining to the volunteer that we can be contacted at any time with any questions they have – no matter how trivial it might seem. We always want a volunteer to feel comfortable and in control throughout the study process. A volunteer’s wellbeing is always our primary interest but can also mean that we are in a good position to invite them on to any future studies.
One of my favourite parts of the role is learning that many people have an active interest in research and believe in taking part for the good of others. This strengthens my belief that simply spreading the word about research will lead to a better future for all.