Welcome back to #WeAreGreenKey, where we shine a spotlight on our powerhouse recruiting team.  

We met up with Kyle Gierke, Staffing Manager on the Healthcare team at Green Key. Kyle started his journey at Green Key almost 3 years ago, when he transitioned his career back to agency recruiting.

How did you get started in recruiting?

I started working in logistics and sales, which consisted of a lot of cold calling and was missing a work-life balance.  I had future aspirations of starting a family and knew an industry change was in my future.  I was brought on by a staffing firm and broke into the world of recruiting.

What do you find the most rewarding about your work?

From a leadership perspective, I love being able to see the team learn and grow. Being raised by a basketball coach has always taught me the importance of team success. The most rewarding aspect of working with candidates and clients is hearing about their high level of satisfaction.  For example: Receiving thank-you notes from candidates sharing how thankful they are for our help and how much they love their positions. Hearing those success stories is the most rewarding part of recruiting to me.  

What tips would you give someone looking to get into healthcare recruiting?

I would say be ready for the roller coaster ride as there are a lot of ups and downs in recruiting.  You can have one week where everything goes right and another where you can’t catch a break.  Here at Green Key the management team brings a lot of resources to us to help us with our work. They are willing to invest into new tools to help us get an edge on the competition. We also have an open-door policy, checking in with us on both a personal and professional level. When we feel things couldn’t get any worse, we know we have the support at Green Key from all levels of management.

What keeps you coming back to this business every day?

Besides being able to provide for my family, the satisfaction of helping others and changing their lives is a major part of what keeps me coming back.  At Green Key, they take a hands-off managing approach the opposite of the micro-management type companies.  It does take very self-motivated and disciplined individuals to succeed in that type of environment, and that is where I thrive. 

2024 marks 20 years of Green Key, how would you describe your experience since starting your career with the healthcare team?

After leaving my first agency role, I was a bit burnt out and wanted to leave recruiting, so I tried different industries. Then a colleague I had worked with previously and I work alongside today at Green Key (Trisha Hankins), reached out to me to interview for a position. So, I interviewed with three partners, Deloris Jones, Tony Giarratana, and Matt Kutin and saw the vision that they had for me at Green Key.  They have always been there for me with monthly check-ins, answering my calls when I need to vent, and helped me grow as a leader. These Green Key leaders have been the ones I can turn to for both personal (congratulations/condolences) and professional advice through some of the most challenging times in my life. What Green Key means to me is family and outstanding leadership.  That has helped me develop into the father, recruiter, and leader I am today.

Jun 6, 2023

COVID Trials Raising Awareness of Clinical Diversity

Minority representation in clinical trials is an issue the coronavirus vaccine trials has brought out of medical publications and journals and into the broader media.

In just the last few weeks, discussions of the need to ensure Black, Hispanic, Asian and other ethnic minority participation in the trials have appeared on NPRABCCNBC and elsewhere.

“If Black people have been the victims of COVID-19, we’re going to be the key to unlocking the mystery of COVID-19,” Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative, told the Los Angeles Times.

Recruiting minorities for clinical trials is not a new issue. Five years ago, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research began publishing demographic summaries of clinical trials. The reports are in response to a Congressional mandate “to report on the diversity of participants in clinical trials and the extent to which safety and effectiveness data is based on demographic factors such as sex, age, and race.”

A recent article on the pharmaceutical news site PMLive carried the headline “If our patients are diverse, why are clinical trials so white?” The article notes that, “Although 20% of the people living with multiple myeloma (cancer of plasma cells) in the US are African Americans, they only account for 6% of all patients in clinical trials.”

Clinical trial managers and researchers are making an effort to diversify their patient volunteers. Writing in Stat, Jocelyn Ashford, a patient advocate and trial recruiter, says creating an inclusive clinical trial requires engaging “the target community in discussions around the recruitment plan. By bringing these communities to the table early, we can hear their input instead of making assumptions about how to best reach them.”

In recruiting Black participants, she’s reached out to historically Black fraternities and sororities. “These organized groups of educated, social-minded individuals are looking to give back to their communities and can act as bridges to their parents, grandparents, and the Black community more broadly.”

Forbes last year suggested that a key to increasing minority representation is to make it easier for minorities to participate by designing ways to gather the data via wearables. It’s also important, says the Forbes article, that clinical trial investigators themselves be representative of different groups.

Citing a Clinical Research Pathways report on “Diversity in Clinical Trials,” Forbes observes that “patients from minority communities are more likely to enroll when they learn about studies from doctors in their own communities.”

For the earliest of the COVID trials, Moderna is getting help from Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. He has a record of successfully recruiting minority trial volunteers, according to Kaiser Health News.

Said del Rios, “We’re trying to do our best to get out to the communities that are most at risk.”

Photo by Fadil Fauzi on Unsplash


Jun 6, 2023

How COVID Is Changing Clinical Trials

Amidst all the uncertainty about a COVID vaccine, at least this one thing is certain: it is changing how clinical trials are conducted.

Instead of taking years to move apotential vaccine from laboratory to trial, the US’s Operation Warp Speed has moved two of six prospective COVID vaccines into Phase 3 recruitment in under six months. Two more are expected to begin Phase 3 recruitment this month.

In the United Kingdom, a different type of clinical trial showed it is possible to enroll 12,000 patients, test several different existing treatment candidates and have the first significant results in fewer than 100 days.

Even given the substantial differences between the government-run health care system of the UK and the private, decentralized US system, there are lessons – “ideas,” Nicole Mather calls them in an article for the journal Nature – researchers here can apply to accelerate trials.

Describing how the UK’s RECOVERY trial went from concept to first, actionable results in such a short time, Mather identifies five differences with traditional trials:

  1. The trial protocol took only 20 pages to detail the design, and data and regulatory requirements. It was flexible enough to allow trial arms to be stopped or added.
  2. It got approvals in 9 days, versus the typical 30-60.
  3. Recruitment paperwork was simplified.
  4. Data collection and processing was accelerated through the UK’s DigiTrials hub, which provides centralized support for clinical trials.
  5. Results were quickly made public.

Though the RECOVERY program has its critics – objections center on releasing results without first being peer-reviewed and structural issues – Mather says it shows how a centralized health data system and a streamlined design and approval process can accelerate the timeline.

“We’ve gone so far towards managing risk that we’ve created layers of bureaucracy that absorb time and money, and, paradoxically, increase the risk that beneficial treatments are not tested,” she writes.

That view is echoed by Martin Landray, deputy chief investigator of RECOVERY, who said the way the National Institute for Health Research cut red tape was “fabulous.” “Many academic and commercial trials have accumulated so much extra baggage over the years, such as long case report forms and 10 page patient consent forms,” he said in an interview with The BMJ.

Digital entry for the RECOVERY trial made consent and subsequent data collection quick and simple, The BMJ article reports.

Leveraging data systems is an important lesson, says Mather, who is life-sciences lead at IBM Services in London, which was a partner in the DigiTrials project. Because of the UK’s National Health System, much information was already available for trial study patients, simplifying the participation process.

That would be a much greater challenge in the US because of its private medical system, although the strong push over the last decade to digitize medical records is making the portability of patient data easier.

The UK RECOVERY program has given momentum to accelerating clinical trial processes. To build on it, says Landray, “We now need to apply the lessons from this approach to other major health challenges such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and mental health.”

Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash