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Improve IRB staffing issues following this good example
Reduce turnover rate
When internal job mobility is stagnated, it can result in high staff turnover rates a problem no IRB wants to experience.
The solution is to collect data on what an office's staffing issues are and target a solution to meet that specific challenge.
"Four years ago our IRB office had a flat, stovepipe type of organizational structure, and all coordinators in the office were operating under a single job description, says Joseph O. Schmelz, PhD, CIP, FAAN, director of research regulatory programs at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, TX.
"Among the many changes we made was to create three levels of job descriptions that started from basic coordinator and moved through intermediate and then a senior position," he says. "We created a career ladder because we had so many coordinators with varying levels of experience and background."
The goal was to stabilize a hiring environment in 2006 which more than one-third of staff positions were unfilled and half of the staff had left within one year.
Since the changes were made, the staffing situation has dramatically improved, with no vacancies or turnover in the past two years, Schmelz says.
"The career track recognized expertise, training, and background," Schmelz says. "As soon as we began to reward employees with a better position and salary for staying in the office and becoming experts in the area of IRB review, we saw the number of coordinators sitting for the CIP exam going up."
Employees now work together to improve the office's overall quality.
"With that career ladder we grouped those employees into teams to try to prove the efficiency of the office processes, and we assigned various levels of experience to the team," he says.
Then they used metrics to measure quality performance, and each team reviewed processes and established quality indicators to measure efficiency and quality, he says.
"They reported those findings in their staff meetings to show what they were finding in turnaround time, errors, omissions, and other issues," Schmelz explains. "Each team reported on quality indicators, and we discussed ways to improve the program."
These efforts have resulted in multiple improvements in the office, he adds.
"It has fostered an environment where staff sees that they'll be rewarded for improving their expertise, and it showed them that they can stay in the office as a career and not just a job," Schmelz says.