Research professionals honored for earning and maintaining certifications

Research professionals with five to nine years of certification
Research professionals with five to nine years of certification, pictured left to right: David R. Nelson; Amber Bouton, CCRC; Rebekah Bush, CCRC; Amy Gunnett, CCRC; Leslie Pettiford, CCRC; Yvette Trahan, CCRP; Michael Mahoney

More than 60 clinical research professionals from UF who have earned specialty certifications in the field of research from national and worldwide associations were honored recently at a reception hosted by the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

For many research professionals, the July 31 event was the first time their efforts to earn and maintain certification, a significant investment of time and resources, were formally recognized at an in-person gathering.

“We wanted to publicly thank a group of professionals who have, for the most part, quietly persevered in maintaining certifications, and to show the value of their efforts to the institution,” said one of the event organizers, Bob Kolb, assistant director of clinical research for the CTSI Translational Workforce Development Program. “The reception was also a great opportunity for professionals who don’t often see each other to connect and celebrate each other’s successes and fits perfectly with the professional development mission of our CTSI Clinical Research Professionals Advisory Council, as well as with the Association for Clinical and Translational Science Special Interest Group for Clinical Research Coordinators, which promotes deliberate and meaningful discussions around the multifaceted, expanding role of coordinators.”

From administrators, to coordinators, to principal investigators, research professionals have pursued certifications from a research-related organization and maintained these achievements primarily on their own effort, said Allison Trainor, MPH, CPH, CCRC president of the North Central Florida chapter of the ACRP and an event organizer.

“The individuals who carry these certifications are ones who are not only committed, personally, to practicing research excellence, but also to the standard that the university works together to set as a whole,” Trainor said.

Clinical research professionals possess rare attributes of intelligence, commitment, diligence, ability to multitask/prioritize, and integrity, said Michael Mahoney, director of research operations and services for UF, the keynote speaker at the reception.

“We look forward to building on this recognition as it further builds confidence in our work force, inspires professional development and strengthens our commitment to contribute to the growth of research at the University of Florida,” Mahoney said. “By committing to certification we validate competence and create a culture dedicated to quality research standards, elevating not just each individual but our UF research enterprise as a whole. Thank you!”

Research professionals with 10 to 14 years' certification
Research professionals with 10 to 14 years’ certification, pictured left to right: David R. Nelson; Socorro (Tet) Pata, CCRC;
Janet King, CCRC; Marcia Hodik, CCRC; Mary Bohannon, CCRA; Michael Mahoney

In response to a CTSI survey, 61 honorees self-identified as certified research professionals. Most had less than four years of certification, and several had more than 10 years, including event organizer Kolb and Victoria Sylva CCRC, clinical research monitor, UF Health Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office, both of whom exceeded 20 years. Dawn Baker ARNP CCRC, research coordinator, pediatric pulmonary division; Renee Boyette RN, BSN, OCN, CCRC, clinical research billing and budget compliance, department of neurosurgery; and Holly Morris MSN, RN, CCRC, CHRC, CTSI director of research services, each had between 15 and 19 years of certification. See a full list of professionals honored below. Those who were unable to attend the event will receive pins and certificates in the mail.

“For me, attaining certifications was a must,” said Amber Bouton, CCRP/CCRC, clinical research/IRB director in the UF department of medicine, division of surgery. “I knew that by earning and maintaining research professional credentialing, I would set myself apart. Research is my passion and I wanted to be respected as a knowledgeable, reliable, trained, and thoroughly experienced research professional.”

It wasn’t easy. Qualifying to even sit for the exams requires a lengthy history of approved hands-on experience. To maintain certification and credentialing, professionals must attain qualified continuing education credits annually. Employers do not always cover the cost for certification and maintenance, Bouton said; therefore, more often than not, these hefty expenses fall directly to the employee or the researcher. A lapse in association membership, or failing to complete the required continuing education credits, leads to a loss in certification, forcing a restart of the entire certification process, including the four- to eight-hour exam.

But it was worth it, Bouton said. After passing her exams, she reported an advancement in her position and salary.

“I highly recommend anyone interested in a career in research, to attain professional certification,” she said. “It absolutely changed my life for the better, and I’m certain it will change theirs in the same way!”

Research professionals with 20 to 24 years of certification
Research professionals with 20 to 24 years of certification, pictured left to right: David R. Nelson, Victoria Sylva, Bob Kolb, Michael Mahoney.

The CTSI Translational Workforce Development Program offers educational opportunities for research professionals, including study groups for those seeking certification, a research-professionals advisory council, and a new seminar series geared toward research professionals.

Certification is awarded by several organizations, including the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP), which offers Clinical Research Associate, Clinical Research Coordinator and Physician Investigator certifications, and the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA), which offers Clinical Research Professional certification. Both are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies

The UF CTSI and the North Central Florida chapter of the ACRP  sponsored the event.

“This is an important effort,” said CTSI Director David R. Nelson, M.D., who attended the event. “It is important to the growth of research at the university and in patient lives. Your dedication makes a difference in the efficiency, quality and professionalism of clinical research.”

The list of honorees below is self-reported. The CTSI would like to continue to support and recognize certified individuals. If you become certified or have not already self-reported, please contact Bob Kolb. Interested in pursuing certification? Read more about study groups and email Bob Kolb if you’d like to join one. 

Research professionals with up to four years of certification
Research professionals with up to four years of certification, pictured left to right: Allison Trainor, CCRC; David R. Nelson; Rebecca Murray, CCRC; John Marks, CCRP; Tracie Kurtz, CCRP; Timothy Guinn, CCRP; Noni Graham, CCRC; Ashley Anderson, ACRP-CP; Maria Aguirre, CCRC; Michael Mahoney

Professionals Honored for Research Certification

0 – 4 years

Maria Aguirre, CCRC
Allison Allegra, CCRP
Annie Allen, CP
Ashley Anderson, CP
Meenakshi Balakrishnan, CCRP
Jennifer Bowman, CCRP
Janice Braddy, CCRC
Jacqueline Causer, CCRP
Christina Cline, CCRC
Jessica Cobb, CCRP
Shawnee Cox, CCRP
Alisha Daniels, CCRC
Jennifer Dover, CCRP
Tasha Futch, CCRC
Kimberly Garrett, CCRP
Noni Graham, CCRC
Emily Green, CCRP
Beate Oltman Greer, CCRC
Timothy Guinn, CCRP
Kelly Jackman, CCRC
Cheri Knecht, CCRP
Tracie Kurtz, CCRP
John Marks, CCRP
Giselle Moore-Higgs, CP
Rebecca Murray, CCRC
Archana Narasanna, CCRP
Thea Nash, CCRP
Arpit Patel, CCRC
Vanessa Scheuble, CCRC
Meena Shankar, CCRC
Erin Silverman, CCRC
Allison Trainor, CCRC
Jesse West, CCRC

5 – 9 years

Amber Bouton, CCRC
Laurie Brown, CCRC
Roberta Brunson, CCRP
Rebekah Bush, CCRC
Robin Cacchio, CCRP
Amy Gunnett, CCRC
Alison Ivey, CCRP
Lee Ann Lawson, CCRC
Deborah McEdward, CCRP
Leslie Pettiford, CCRC
Amanda Prince, CCRP
Kellie Ritari, CCRP
Terry Selfe, CCRP
Brenda Thacker, CCRP
Tonia Toon, CCRP
Yvette Trahan, CCRP
Ashley Williams, CCRP

10 – 14 years

Sheila Austin, CIP
Mary Bohannon, CCRA
Marcia Hodik, CCRC
Janet King, CCRC
Socorro (Tet) Pata, CCRC
Judith Wishin, CCRC

15 – 19 years

Dawn Baker, CCRC
Renee Boyette, CCRC
Holly Morris, CCRC, CHRC

20 – 24 years

H. Robert Kolb, CCRC
Victoria Sylva, CCRC