As 2021 wound down, I had the opportunity to attend some conferences in person – a true pleasure after so many months behind screens. These experiences reminded me of the importance of connecting with others in three dimensions. They also reinvigorated the “why” of the work we do in clinical trials.
We’re here to make a difference for patients.
We’re also human, so as we focus on our to-do lists, we may become overly focused on nuts and bolts like churning out documents, managing escalations, and keeping inboxes under control. While that work is worthwhile, it isn’t what truly matters: helping people live longer, better lives.
At one of the conferences, I shared a story about a study nurse I met about a decade ago. She had entered the field to help bring better drugs to market. But she told me that she had grown frustrated with the time and effort required to manage multiple tools, spreadsheets, and passwords. These requirements left her with little or no time to engage personally with patients. She was clear on why she was doing the work. She was also clear on what she needed to be more effective: “Can I please have my patients back?” At another event, I spoke about an oncology patient who had shared her own complex and demanding patient journey in a life-saving clinical trial. She recognized that her ability to take time off work and pay for travel was key – and that not every patient would be as fortunate.
For years, these interactions have kept me focused on increasing access, reducing friction, and improving the experience for clinical trial patients and the sites that support them. It’s not just about streamlining how we collect data about a patient’s symptoms; it’s about understanding whether and to what extent a treatment is making that person’s day-to-day life better.
Following both talks, I was floored by the number of attendees who reached out personally to tell me about the “whys” that brought them to this work. A personal battle with migraines. A sibling struggling to manage epilepsy. A parent lost to cancer. In each other, we recognized a shared commitment to big-picture goals. These interactions left me feeling energized and optimistic about how we can continue to improve patient experience, site experience, and, ultimately, health outcomes.
Our work matters. So, as we start a new year, I thank you for your contributions. I invite you to reflect on and recommit to your “why.” And I encourage you to reach out if you’re seeking to collaborate with a company – or join a team of professionals – that operates with a clear, compelling purpose.