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Sunday, November 21, 2010

What is up with this coordinator?

In a separate post I provide you tips and advice for motivating and working well with your coordinators.  However, sometimes it is hard to get a Study Coordinator to answer the phone, email, or query requests.  Other times they are behind on their Screening/Enrollment logs, supply requests, data entry, etc.  As a CRA Site Manager, this can adversely affect your metrics, status reports, or sense of general management for the site.  If the coordinator is a repeat offender or a general flake you will have to escalate the issue to the Principal Investigator and if necessary to the sponsor; enrollment or study payments may be held until the situation is rectified or the site may be closed.

However, nine times out of ten, I have found that lack of communication or poor performance from the site to be isolated and due to some temporary interruption/issue thereby calling for extra understanding on my part.  You never know what they have going on outside of work. For example, one time my SC was dealing with the recent suicide of his ex-wife and having to care for a new baby so all the work was slipping.  They may have recently lost a sibling, parent, friend, child, etc. and that can affect their work.  I had another coordinator who took a month off work to study for her medical licenses.  One coordinator frequently fell asleep at her desk due to uncontrolled narcolepsy.  The list of distractions/personal issues goes on and on and sometimes their workload is truly too high.
You catch more flies with honey... Bee prepared.
Never assume you have the whole picture.  Show
compassion and find out what is going on
with your coordinator.  This will make great
in-roads towards a healthy and productive
 professional working relationship.
I have always felt more compassion and understanding once I learned what was going on.  It is important not to let the situation spiral too far by keeping a pulse on your site's activities and to strike up a dialogue the moment the work starts to slip or unusual patterns/delinquencies start to emerge.  If your coordinator isn't producing or available, pin them down and ask what the issue is and whether there is anything you can do to help. They don't have to give you all the details in order for you to help them come up with solutions to get the work done.  Coordinators are pulled in many directions but you always need to pay attention and work with them to achieve the study goals.  So the take away is to be as patient as possible with your coordinator. When you are frustrated with a coordinator who is falling short, always stop to ask, "What is up with this coordinator?" so you can be pro-active, problem solve, and best maintain the relationship with the site.

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