Valerie Vinson is the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center-supported clinical research navigator at University Hospitals Clinical Trials Unit at the Seidman Cancer Center. As a whole, she is tasked with increasing the number of patients, especially those of minority race and ethnicity, who enroll in clinical trials. To Vinson, though, her career is all about helping patients understand the importance of clinical research and how their participation can not only help them now, but also future patients.
Vinson has spent her life in the field of healthcare and non-profits. She earned a Masters/ Community Health Education from Cleveland State University. She has worked at University Hospitals as a Patient Advocate and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center as a Cancer Health Education Specialist, teaching about cancer and clinical trials to the underserved population in Cleveland and Cuyahoga for several years. When she saw the opportunity to transition as a clinical research navigator, she took it. The transition was natural because it will allow Vinson to do what she does best – provide health education to the minority population on Clinical Trials.
Interaction with patients is limited due to COVID-19, so Vinson is working on education and outreach components with a lens on communicating better with patients, understanding barriers to trust, and helping patients to understand the value of research: rewriting brochures, developing signage, creating educational modules for physicians and health professionals, and writing patient newsletters.
Vinson is most excited to accompany a patient through their journey from the beginning. A cancer diagnosis can be scary, confusing and overwhelming. Add in clinical trials, and things get exponentially more difficult without the right information. But that is why clinical research navigators like Vinson are so important. They cut through the noise and make things easier to understand, explaining things in a way that is tailored to each patient. As a cancer patient, knowing you have someone like Vinson by your side could make clinical trials and healthcare a little less scary and eliminate some of the fear and mistrust. It will be easier to focus on what is important: your health.