Core Competencies Applied: Duke University School of Medicine

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The Harmonized Core Competency Framework was utilized in a major workforce development effort at Duke University. Rebecca Brouwer (Associate Director for Research Operations at Duke Office of Clinical Research) and Denise Snyder (Associate Dean for Clinical Research at Duke School of Medicine) spearheaded this effort to reclassify all research professional positions within Duke University.

The initiative created competency-based job classifications for research professionals. The work builds on the competencies developed by the Enhancing Clinical Research Professionals’ Training and Qualifications (ECRPTQ) CTSA Supplemental Award, which is based on the Harmonized Core Competency Framework. 

The workgroup organized by Ms. Brouwer and Ms. Snyder set out to tailor the core competencies to fit Duke’s clinical research environment. In collaboration with 75 subject matter experts at Duke, the workgroup distilled 41 competencies for clinical research professionals. Communicating with and engaging research staff members were crucial to developing the classifications. Town halls and Q&A sessions, for example, gave stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback.

As with the competencies in the Harmonized Core Competency Framework, Duke's competencies were broad enough to be applicable to research staff at all levels. In this vein, each competency can be applied for different levels of research staff.

The competency-based job classification and role relevancy levels have enabled Duke to standardize roles and job descriptions and encourage professional development. This initiative aligned Duke to the rest clinical research market, and it provided Duke with the opportunity to improve and better track training, accountability, compliance, performance, and professional development.

Implemented in Summer 2016, Duke’s effort is expected to have significant impact and return on investment. Moreover, Duke is primed to better support its research staff and continue being a leader in clinical research.  

Rebecca Brouwer is Associate Director for Research Operations at Duke Office of Clinical Research (DOCR). Denise Snyder is Associate Dean for Clinical Research at Duke School of Medicine. Case studies have been adapted from the Core Competencies in Clinical Research Workshop, held on October 19, 2016 at the Harvard Faculty Club in Cambridge, MA.