Translating the achievements of Australia’s medical research sector into better outcomes for patients relies on expanding clinical trials across the country – and this requires a highly trained workforce to meet the increased demand.
In partnership with the Parkville Cancer Clinical Trials Unit the VCCC Alliance continues to deliver the highly successful SKILLED Clinical Trials Internship Program. Now in its fifth year, the program trains PhD, Masters and Honours-level scientists as Clinical Trial Assistants (CTA) and Study Coordinators (SCs) to address a skilled workforce shortage in the sector. Interns are then placed into clinical trial environments at host sites, giving them access to practical, hands-on training, supported by theory-based learning. Using their research skills, interns identify and implement a quality or efficiency improvement project at their site.
In 2023, the program expanded its reach with the University of Melbourne (UoM) joining as a formal partner, bringing the number of university partners to four including Deakin, Monash, and RMIT Universities. In addition, a new metropolitan host site - Northern Hospital - participated by hosting a Study Coordinator internship.
The internship program has consistently reported high levels of satisfaction rates by both interns and host sites. Almost all interns – over 90 per cent – who completed the 2022 course were employed in the sector, providing clear evidence the program works to expand clinical trial capacity. The quality of study coordinators and clinical trial assistants undertaking the program was also shown to be high, with excellent competency score results from baseline to completion of the program.
The SKILLED program has attracted considerable external investment including funding from MTP Connect, and sponsorship from both the Victorian government and Bristol Myers Squibb.
The VCCC Alliance is grateful to all the supporters who have seen the value and potential of the SKILLED program to bring about more equitable access to clinical trials for Victorian cancer patients. To further expand on the program’s success, additional investment is sought to continue this valuable initiative into the future.
2023 SKILLED intern Akoy Akuien (centre) at Bendigo Health Research Week with Bendigo Health respresentatives (far left, far right) and VCCC Alliance staff Jordyn McDonough (left) and Jessica Freeman (right).