Engagement, Recruitment, and Retention Certificate Program

The Engagement, Recruitment, and Retention Certificate Program is a certificate and skills-building program designed for Clinical Research study teams. The intention of the program is to help staff develop and expand competency in participant engagement, recruitment, and retention.

Program Goals

  1. Develop a cohort of engagement, recruitment, and retention specialists who can serve as a resource for their clinical research units, departments, and divisions.
  2. Bolster the skills that are necessary for both meaningful and inclusive engagement, recruitment, and retention engagement practices.
  3. Help study teams think critically about participant engagement and recruitment and participant engagement from perspectives other than their own.


2022 Cohort Course Schedule (June 2022 - Dec 2022)


Nomination Form (CLOSED) 

Nomination period for 2023 Cohort: TBD


Program Informational Flyer

Managers are invited to nominate clinical research staff who perform participant engagement, recruitment and retention activities, who are interested in developing additional competencies in these topics, and/or whom they believe additional training would make them good resource in their units. There are limited spaces in the program (~30) in hopes that we can facilitate open conversation among those in the cohort. Please keep this in mind when nominating individuals from your CRU.  

If you are an employee who is interested in the program, please consult with your manager for nomination.

A total of 9 classes are required to complete the program and with around 2 classes each month.

Study teams are busy! That’s why the program is spread out over 6 months. We’ve estimated approximately 18 hours of commitment (with around 4 hours per month) to the program, which includes any pre-learning, classroom and online instruction, and optional journaling prompts and wiki shares with the cohort.

Program elements: 

  • 1 Online Pre-Requisite = ~30 min 
  • 6 Core Courses = ~9 hrs 
  • 3 Electives = ~5 hrs 
  • Pre-work, Online Modules, and Wiki Shares ~ 20 minutes on average per class. 

Total time = ~ 18 hrs over 6 months

Please note that taking additional electives (there are 7 to choose from) is beneficial, but will add additional time. 

All courses are 1 to 2 hours long. Courses will be held toward the beginning of the day or end of the day. All courses are currently held via Zoom - if anything changes program participants will be notified. Some courses have online pre-learning associated that must be completed for program credit. 

Fall 2021 Cohort Course Schedule (Sept 2021 - Feb 2022)

2022 Cohort Course Schedule (June 2022 - Dec 2022)

Course dates and titles are subject to change based on facilitator needs and program participants will be notified in case of changes. Participants are required to choose three electives to complete the certificate program but may attend them all if desired.


Core courses

Participants attend all core courses to receive certificates. 


Recruitment Regulations and Tools (ONLINE) - This online course will include information about the Engagement Policy, obtaining IRB approval for your recruitment plans and materials, branding requirements when you’re targeting Duke Health patients, and Maestro Care tools that support your efforts to identify people who are eligible for your studies. Students will complete the online course and interact with one another on the course Wiki to receive credit.

Just Ask: Equity and Diversity in Clinical Research - This interactive training focuses on the impact of implicit bias in clinical research/trial recruitment. Participants will discuss how personal beliefs and attitudes affect approaches to recruitment and practice strategies to increase participant diversity. 

Smarter to be Understood: Improving Readability in Participant Engagement Materials - A guide to the basics of readability and tools to support the development of lay-friendly materials. We’ll discuss strategies you can use for your materials, from concise summaries to websites, flyers and brochures. 

All in This Together: Respect and Awareness of Participant Perspectives - In a highly regulated environment, it can be difficult to maintain our respect and awareness of the participant perspective, especially given the tension between “achieving your targets” and working with participants who are real people embedded in very dynamic personal, social and family lives. We will help you move beyond “does this person meet the eligibility criteria?” to the inclusion of “is this study right for this person at this time in their lives?” and help you recognize how to use active listening to support more patient-centered recruitment approaches and enhance your relationships with participants. We will also discuss the concept of motivational interviewing. 

Using Social Marketing Principles to Design Your Engagement Strategy - Get acquainted with a framework for the social marketing cycle and using it to develop your recruitment material. Learn to ask yourself questions like “who am I trying to reach and what do I know about them, where they stand, where they seek and who they trust for information, what is important to them at this moment in their healthcare or personal lives?” so you can develop recruitment strategies and messages that will resonate.  

Building Trust and Partnerships in Clinical Research - A deep dive into the importance and relevance of trust between study team and participant and researchers and the community at large, including tools and strategies for ensuring positive research interactions that live beyond individual study participation and create clinical research champions in the community. 

Retention: The Challenges and Opportunities - Participants start making decisions about participation in research long before the first visit, and continue making decisions throughout recruitment, consent, and study participation. In this course, we will discuss the importance of strong retention to research in general, with a focus on relationship-building  and other tools to support retention from recruitment through the consent process and study participation. 


Elective Courses

Participants choose 3 courses to attend. 
Note:  Participants are required to choose three electives to complete the certificate program but may attend them all if desired.


Principles and Best Practices for Stakeholder Engagement - With an increasing focus on patient-centeredness and stakeholder engagement across the research enterprise, knowing how to identify and engage a variety of stakeholders has become essential to the success of a research study. Understand the fundamental principles of stakeholder engagement and learn how and when to identify and engage with stakeholders in support of your research study

Social Media: Is it Right for Your Research? - Learn the ins and outs of leveraging social media for research. Attendees will review questions to ask if having a social media presence is right for your research. We will also discuss how you can leverage existing channels to promote your research when you don’t have a dedicated handle. Presenters will share how to develop a social media plan including generating a content calendar and measuring success. We’ll review common terms, resources, best practices, and case examples including a Facebook ad campaign. 

Community-Engaged Research Initiatives (CEnR) - According to the CDC, community-engaged research (CEnR) is “the process of working collaboratively with groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests, or similar situations with respect to issues affecting their well-being. ”CEnR can take on many forms and may include a wide variety of stakeholders, including hospitals and health systems, community organizations and leadership, community members, local institutions and agencies. In this class, you will learn the principles that undergird community-engaged research, the difference between CEnR and traditional health research, the spectrum of engagement opportunities, and how CEnR can support research that reduces disparities and inequities.

Telling the Story of Your Research - Learn how to communicate about research in a variety of situations. With an emphasis on developing your ability to be respectful and aware of different perspectives, make research inviting rather than overwhelming, and tools to help you develop lay summaries of study results. 

Engagement, Recruitment, and Retention on a Shoestring Budget - Learn about identifying and accounting for the real costs of recruitment and retention and the effort needed to support robust strategies and tactics.  Discuss strategies for building and using your recruitment budget wisely. 

Remote Informed Consent: Best Practices in Design and Delivery - In the midst of our new remote reality, many study teams have altered workflows to support conducting consent activities remotely. In this workshop, we will discuss the design and delivery of your remote electronic consents to ensure you are following principles of readability, human cognition, and learning (e.g. cognitive load, narration, coherence, signaling, redundancy, and personalization). We will consider some of the social and ethical dynamics known to affect people’s attitudes and preferences with respect to remote consenting, such as online access, digital literacy, and trust. 

The 5T’s: A Framework to Support Inclusion of Older Adults in Research - This course will provide a practical approach for including older adults in research. We will address case examples related to recruiting older adults, discuss the scope of the problem (why) and how the 5T’s were implemented, define the 5T’s, identify ways to apply the 5T’s to your studies, and discuss a potential application for other special populations.

The curriculum features:

  • Expert instruction in requested topics around engagement, recruitment, and retention
  • Engaging and thought-provoking material and interactions
  • Mixed modes of instruction to maximize effectiveness
  • Wiki access for continuous resource sharing among the cohort
  • A network of peers and resources to turn to for help 
  • CEU credit hours for SOCRA and ACRP certifications 
  • An opportunity to evaluate the program and provide feedback to enhance it for future attendees

Additionally, those who complete the program will receive a certificate that can be displayed as evidence of career development and used as a resource for tier advancement.

Yes, you may attend the courses listed below individually, without being enrolled in the program, if there is space. See the LMS for registration.

Individual registration for courses will open after the certificate program participants have registered. At that point, you may register on a first-come-first-served basis as there will be limited space in each class.

Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute

Jamie Roberts
Research Practice Manager
Duke Cancer Institute

Sabrena Mervin-Blake
Senior Staff Director, Community Engaged Research Initiative
CTSI Community Engaged Research Initiative  

Kenisha Bethea, M.P.H
Research Program Leader
CTSI Community Engagement Core

Nicholas Eberlein
Project Planner
CTSI Recruitment Innovation Center

Kelly Keefe
Project Planner
CTSI Recruitment Innovation Center

Eve Marion
Research Program Leader
CTSI Community Engagement Core

Pam Maxson, Ph.D.
Director of Operations, Center for Community & Population Health Improvement and Community Engagement

Leatrice Martin
Health Education Specialist
Senior Program Coordinator, Mobile App Gateway

Michael Musty
CTSI Recruitment Innovation Center

Duke Office of Clinical Research

Stephanie Freel, Ph.D.
Director, Outreach and Mentorship
Director, Training and Communications

Jessica Cranfill
Coordinator, Education and Training

Duke Clinical Research Institute

Patty McAdams
Research Communications and Engagement
Clinical Research Communications Project Manager

Jenny Cook, M.P.H
Research Communications and Engagement
Clinical Research Communications Project Manager

Vincent Miller
Data Solutions
Clinical Trials Project Leader I
Project Lead, New Technology

Renee Leverty
Clinical Trials Project Leader III
Program Lead, DCRI Stakeholder Engagement, and DCRI Research Together

University Communications

Karl Bates
Director of Research Communications

Duke Social Science Research Institute

Brian Southwell, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor for Duke SSRI
Program Director, Science in the Public Sphere, RTI International

Duke Population Health Sciences 

Jennifer Thomas, MPH
Clinical Research Coordinator


Dr. Nadine Barrett, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Duke School of Medicine
Associate Director, Community Engagement and Stakeholder Strategy, Duke Cancer Institute and Duke CTSI
Director, Stakeholder Engagement Core, Duke REACH Equity, Health Disparities COE
Co-Director, DCI/NCCU Cancer Research and Education Program

Dr. Christopher Barrett Bowling, M.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences

Dr. Leonor Corsino, M.D., M.H.S.
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Nutrition.
Associate Director, Duke School of Medicine, Master of Biomedical Sciences.
Associate Chair, Department of Medicine Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee.
Co-Director, Duke CTSI Community Engagement Core / Community-Engaged Research Initiative (CERI)
Co-Director, Research Education and Training Sub-core, Duke Center for REsearch to AdvanCe Healthcare Equity.
Director/ Duke Population Health Improvement Initiative Program
Associate Director, School of Medicine Office of Faculty Mentoring Training.

David Klein, Ph.D.
​University of Iowa
Director of Technology, Instructional Designer
Law, Health Policy & Disability Center

Chris Simon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Population Health Sciences
Bioethicist and Medical Anthropologist