An Accountant’s Ideal Session

by Michael (Mike) Kraten, PhD, CPA, IRB Chair at Providence College

PRIM&R is pleased to share a post from Mike Kraten, a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad for the 2014 Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Conference. The PRIM&R Blog Squad is composed of PRIM&R members who will blog here, on Ampersand, about the conference to give our readers an inside peek of what happened December 4-7 in Baltimore, MD.

When I arrived at the 2014 AER Conference, I couldn’t help but wonder whether I’d find sessions that address all of my professional identities. I suspected that it might not be easy to do so; after all, I’m not a medical professional, and I don’t engage in clinical research.

Rather, I’m a Certified Public Accountant who teaches in the School of Business at a liberal arts college. I’m an administrator as well, the newly appointed chair of an IRB that is striving to embrace the latest efficient technologies.

So would I be able to find intellectual content that is relevant to all of my interests? To my surprise and delight, that was an easy task! In retrospect, the process began even before I arrived in Baltimore, when I joined the technologically savvy PRIM&R Blog Squad.

Then, on Thursday, I attended a pre-conference program titled IRB Chairs Boot Camp: Tools for Successful IRB Leadership. On Friday, I found some information to enrich one of my teaching cases. And yesterday, I enjoyed a session that addressed my research interests in communication technologies.

I wrote about these experiences in my previous postings, but when I arrived at the convention center on the final morning, I wondered whether I would find anything that was relevant to my professional activities as a Certified Public Accountant. Of all of the elements of my professional identity, that was the one that had not yet been addressed.

And guess what? That morning, I found the perfect workshop! It was an accountant’s ideal session: “Institutional IRB Performance: Benchmarking and Optimization.” I found the session content was extremely informative.

Jeffrey Cooper, MD,MMM, and Stuart Horowitz, PhD, MBA, of the WIRB-Copernicus Group, joined Daniel Nelson, MSc, of the US Environmental Protection Agency, to present a performance report that was released just two days prior to the session. Fortunately, most of their findings were reassuringly familiar. They found, for instance, that IRBs often require more than one month to process expedited and full review applications.

Other benchmarking metrics, however, surprised me, and will directly impact my perception of my own IRB’s efficiency. For instance, I had no idea that most IRBs routinely process exempt review applications in less than two weeks. And I was unaware that the ratio of “minimal risk” to “more than minimal risk” applications at most institutions is very heavily weighted towards the “minimal risk” categorization.

The “bottom line,” though, is that during my four days in Baltimore, I managed to find intellectual content that appealed to each and every aspect of my professional identity. Without a doubt, that was the single most impressive (and rewarding) discovery of the conference for me.