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OBJECTIVE: Research coordinators have significant responsibilities in clinical trials that often require them to find unique ways to manage their jobs, thus reshaping their professional identities. The purpose of this study was to identify how research coordinators manage role and ethical conflicts within clinical research trials. METHODS: A qualitative study combining observation and 63 semistructured interviews at 25 research organizations was used. RESULTS: Altruism is a recurring theme in how research coordinators define and view their work. CONCLUSION: Altruism is adopted by research coordinators to: (1) Teach patient-subjects the appropriate reasons to participate in clinical research, (2) minimize the conflict between research and care, and (3) contest the undervaluation of coordinating. Altruism is a strategy used to handle the various conflicts they experience in a difficult job, and it has become part of the professional identity of clinical research coordinators.