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Gathering Clinical Research Nurses and Coordinators to Solve Challenges Together

Every month, Charlotte Helen Melby, coordinator of NorTrials Cancer, invites around 50 clinical research nurses and coordinators from 18 cancer departments around the country to share experiences and discuss challenges.

Published 11/7/2023
A woman smiling for the camera
Charlotte Helen Melby, Coordinator for NorTrials Cancer

- Cancer departments from Nordland hospital in the north to Sørlandet Hospital in the south are represented. Some departments have one person participating, while others may have five, so we now have a total of around 50 people in the network. But the group is constantly expanding. Other departments that have cancer trials here at Oslo University Hospital are also participating, including the Oslo Myeloma Centre, the Department of Haematology and the Department of Gynaecology, says Melby.

She is impressed that the heads of department from two of the cancer centres also attend the meetings - to learn. This shows commitment to trials among the managers as well, and Melby encourages more heads of department to do the same.  

The aim is to learn from each other

- The purpose of these network meetings is, among other things, to share experiences and discuss bottlenecks so that the departments can learn from each other. Another goal is to achieve cross-departmental collaboration. Some of the participants have conducted many clinical trials over several years, while others are new to the game. But what they all have in common is that they have started somewhere and grown both in terms of the number of trials and the number of study personnel. The network meetings are also a great way for me as coordinator to reach out to all the departments, says Melby. 

The meetings usually start with a brief status update on how many trials are ongoing and how many are due to start up in the near future. 

- This allows me to continue working on the overview of all cancer trials that I'm in the process of building up. Eventually, when the overview becomes more complete, it can be adjusted after each meeting.

Meeting the Data Protection Officers

Many departments face the same challenges, for example in terms of lack of resources, time, pharmacovigilance and data protection. The data protection, in particular, often contributes to delayed start-up in several trials. 

- Where there are recurring challenges, external people are invited to the meeting. That way we can have a presentation about the topic, followed by a discussion to see if it can be solved in any way. I'm therefore pleased that at our next meeting on 10 November, almost all the data Protection Officers from all the hospitals will be attending. They will give a presentation, and afterwards we will discuss the various issues they and we are facing. We hope we'll be able to solve some of them together, says Melby.

Several departments can also communicate various routines and procedures that work very well for them.

Pipeline meetings with the industry

In addition to meetings with trial coordinators and nurses, Melby and Åslaug Helland (head of NorTrials Cancer) organize pipeline meetings with the pharmaceutical industry.

- Here, the companies present their pipeline and planned trials, and all clinicians and trial personnel are invited. So far, we have had two pipeline meetings. Seven companies have presented their pipeline so far, and the two meetings had well over 100 attendees from the clinics. The purpose of the pipeline meetings is to give clinicians and trial personnel an insight into upcoming trials, and the companies encourage clinicians to contact them directly if there are trials that are of interest, says Melby.

A link between industry and hospitals

She started her job as coordinator of NorTrials Cancer in April this year, and her job is mainly about being a point of contact for both the clinical research centres and the industry, acting as a link that ensures closer and more frequent interaction between them. The common goal is to contribute to more cancer trials in Norway. 

- My job is very varied and includes organizing and conducting various meetings and events, and attending events to build networks. In addition, I receive requests for clinical trials from the industry and forward these to relevant hospitals and departments in Norway. I have also assisted companies in identifying sites when they want as many sites as possible for a trial. As coordinator, I want to contribute to giving the industry a better understanding of why Norway is a good place to do clinical trials, and also help to ensure that processes run as smoothly as possible, says Melby.