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Communication: The key to successful clinical trials in the veterinary practice

Communication: The key to successful clinical trials in the veterinary practice

At Southern Pines Healthy Pet Clinic, Dr Alicia Fortenberry and her team are big on the role they play in the community.

They believe everyone should have access to high-quality, affordable veterinary care – and they also run a shelter that takes in more than 3,000 strays and other animals every year.

So, introducing clinical studies at their clinic seven months ago felt like a natural next step to help develop new treatments for the greater good of animals everywhere.

As medical director of the Hattiesburg, Mississippi practice, Dr Fortenberry is clinical trials investigator. She has embraced collaboration and innovation – with a strong emphasis on good communication – to build the right team and culture and to attract pet owners and patients to take part in the studies.

With a doctorate from Ross University, she joined Southern Pines more than a decade ago and had over 20 years’ experience and a certification in shelter medicine. It was this passion for helping animals in need that inspired her to launch the clinical studies program – and her team is invested too.

“It took a while to see which staff would fit best in which clinical roles and who would be really happy,” she explains. “We operate in a very fast paced, high-volume and low-cost environment, so not all the team were used to the addition of clinical trials.

“But we really tried to rearrange and match the right people with the right roles, including study coordinator, technician and dispenser. Now everyone is very happy about what we’re doing.”

According to Dr. Fortenberry, communication and collaboration is key to having a strong team in which everyone’s time and expertise is used in the best way to give clients a positive experience. With four trials running at once, the clinic is operating smoothly and pet owners are excited about taking part.

“When we began advertising to pet owners and recruiting patients to our studies, we didn’t quite know how people would respond, but they have been really positive for the most part,” says Dr Fortenberry.

“Figuring out how we best support clients has been challenging but I think we’ve gotten better at communicating so that everyone involved benefits.”

The positive impact on pets taking part in the trials is why Dr Fortenberry and her team have joined multiple studies in the space of just a few months.

“Every patient that has come through a study with us has dramatically improved, which is really exciting to see,” she says. “It makes such a difference to see us improve things for them and their owners. It has been remarkable.”

Investigator Support

Argenta has a dedicated team supporting clinical investigators, ranging from finding the right study for them, to training, clinic visits, and providing materials to support patient communication and enrolment.

Each participating clinic gets a designated Clinical Research Associate (CRA) who is the main point of contact. After a few internal changes, Dr. Fortenberry was placed with her current CRA.

“They are amazing and we’ve had a really good experience with the teams that we’re working with,” she says.

Are you interested in becoming a clinical investigator or being featured on our site? Please contact us to discuss the possibilities!

More about Dr. Fortenberry

Dr. Alicia Fortenberry is certified in shelter medicine and is most passionate about shelter transport programs, coalition building, and reducing risks of disease spread with her nearly 20 years of shelter experience. She is also an alumnus of the Maddie’s Fellowship Program, an organization that aims to achieve a no-kill nation.

When she’s not working, Dr. Fortenberry spends her time with her children, Alec and Ian, and furry children, dogs Bella and Sally.

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