Adding to my Toolbox: IRB Chair Boot Camp

I actually struggled quite a bit with which pre-conference session to attend— as a new chair, and new to the IRB process, I have a lot to learn. My mentor suggested the IRB Chairs Boot Camp: Tools for Successful IRB Leadership. I’m still processing most of the things I learned (the agenda outlines the topics covered), but throughout the day, I was repeatedly reminded of the importance of educating all those involved in the research review process.

As I mentioned in my first post, I am the chair of a new, very small, IRB. My experience with IRB administration and leadership roles prior to my appointment as chair was minimal. The presentations in the IRB Chairs Boot Camp course emphasized leadership styles, conflict resolution, and managing personality types more than I expected. But, given the number of projects I manage in and outside my role as IRB chair, I probably should have considered my leadership style more than I have. In each of their presentations, Drs. Abraham, Feldman, and Gordon highlighted useful techniques and strategies for successfully integrating and accommodating the many personality types one finds on an IRB board. In addition to the resources included for further reading, this pre-conference session gave me some easy, practical suggestions for meeting management.

Beyond my own education, the session also gave me insight for future training and resources for my board members. Since we have all been learning our role in the research process together , we have regularly relied on a collaborative environment. A few of the techniques discussed in the IRB Chairs Boot Camp, such as emailing summaries of the protocols prior to the meeting, will supplement our current efforts by ensuring everyone’s opinion is equally represented,. The evaluation tools referenced during this course will also be a great starting point to get feedback and suggestions regarding meeting efficiency and productivity.

I followed-up this pre-conference program with the AER16 didactic presentation, Recruiting, Educating, and Retaining Non-Scientist/Community IRB Members, which inspired me as to how to educate my college and system communities. Because we are new to our college community and the larger University of New Hampshire system, most faculty and staff are unsure of the role of our Ethical Research Board (ERB). The ideas presented about empowering community members on the board built on what I’d learned in the IRB Chairs Boot Camp about fostering a collaborative environment and are concepts I can adapt for my college community by emphasizing their expertise. It is important that the community sees the ERB as a collaborative environment encouraging research, and the tips and tools presented about mentoring community members as experts is exactly the tone I would like to set as chair.

Aimee E. Huard, PhD,  associate professor of social sciences and chair of the Ethical Research Board at Nashua Community College, is a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad for the 2016 AER Conference. The PRIM&R Blog Squad is composed of PRIM&R members who are blogging here, on Ampersand, to give our readers an inside peek of what happened at the conference in Anaheim, CA.