PPD just launched an industry-first clinical research associates apprentice program, mainly meant for transitioning military veterans and service members who have medical backgrounds.
The 12-month program, registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, will begin at PPD’s sites in North Carolina, Texas and California in the first quarter of this year.
Enrolled participants will become PPD employees and, while eligible for employee benefits, be immersed in PPD’s award-winning CRA academy and on-the-job learning at no extra training costs.
Even though accepted participants could already have developed some medical background, there’re usually still more to learn since clinical research is a highly regulated and complex field, explained David Johnston, EVP of global clinical development at PPD.
“Participating veterans will gain exposure to clinical research, federal regulations, clinical trial protocols and other areas needed for a CRA position and a career in clinical development,” Johnston told FierceCRO. They will start the training process from a clinical administrative position, progress to a remote site monitor, and eventually to clinical research associate, Johnston said.
To make this program happen, PPD has worked with the DoL’s Veteran’s Employment and Training Service, and has also been in contact with military installations closest to the CRO’s locations in those three states, said Tim Neathery, PPD’s VP of human resources. The CRO will be responsible for all aspects of the program, including coordination, administrative processes, recruitment and marketing of the apprenticeship.
“With this program, PPD addresses one of the immediate needs of military veterans and personnel transitioning to civilian careers, while addressing a clear need to expand the talent pool of CRAs for the conduct of clinical research,” said Ed Murray, EVP and chief human resources officer of PPD, in a statement.
Although the program was created to target veterans and transitioning service members, it is not exclusive, and anyone may apply. Johnston said the company expects to start the program with a total of three to five apprentices at the three sites, and plans to onboard more additional apprentices quarterly.
CRA is one of the top positions by headcount in the CRO industry, and it has been listed for many years as one of the “Best Jobs in America” by CNNMoney, ranking most recently at 84 among the top 100 careers with big growth, great pay and satisfying work.
Last February, PPD was named by Training magazine for the fifth consecutive year to its Top 125 list of businesses that excel in employee learning and development. As part of the company’s six- to eight-week employee training program called CRA Academy, which the new apprentice program is based on, the Virtual Clinical Foundations Program 2.0, which prepares CRAs for monitoring clinical trials, was singled out for recognition with an Outstanding Training Initiative Award.