Dressed as an IRB Coordinator at Kindergarten Career Day

No one really goes to a Kindergarten Career Day dressed as a clinical research ethics and regulations administrator, right? So how did I grow up to be one?!

My introduction to the world of clinical research ethics was unconventional. But as a testimony to the field, with its camaraderie and valuable professional development opportunities (such as PRIM&R offers), I am continually learning and becoming better at finding my place here.

While “deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up,” I earned two BAs—one in Business and Communications and one in German—and then moved across the world to work and live in Austria as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in upper-level grade schools. After returning home, still wondering what I should “be when I grow up,” I accepted a temporary administrative position with the Medical College of Wisconsin Office of Research. (I mean, hey, that will pay the bills, right?) It was here that I discovered the field of clinical research ethics and regulations, with the shared goal of protecting both animal and human subjects. It was challenging and fascinating, with a far-reaching impact, and the team of my coworkers and leaders were unmatched. So, I stayed…for approximately eight years as the IACUC Coordinator.

During those years, I did “grow up” and became fluent in federal, state, and institutional regulations and policies. My world was stretched by participating in various professional and educational opportunities, including going through the institution’s transition from paper protocol records to a web-based research platform; achieving Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician (ALAT) certification; and attending the PRIM&R IACUC Conference. After taking a break to stay home with my son for four years, I stepped back into the world of clinical research, this time as a Regulatory Specialist for industry-funded clinical trials for Ascension Wisconsin, and then on to my current role as the IRB Coordinator.

I have continued to value and take advantage of professional opportunities in the field as I absorb and apply this new set of federal, state, and institutional regulations and policies. I attended the 2020 PRIM&R IRB Administrator Bootcamp, which afforded a deep-dive into the human subjects research regulations and coordinator responsibilities, provided friendly peer interaction, and offered rubber-meets-the-road style application with plenty of practical tools to take along with me! I’m looking forward to sitting for the CIP certification in 2022.

My winding career path is marked with pivotal moments and the dedication of mentors who poured into my ability and experience. I’m looking forward to giving back to the community by sharing my unique perspective as a Blog Squad member for the 2021 Advancing Ethical Research Conference (AER21).

This is my first AER Conference, and I can already see it as a welcoming bridge between seasoned experts and newcomers as we come together to share experiences and wisdom gained over the years, embrace the changes that time and technology thrusts upon us, and uphold the highest standard of ethics in ensuring human subject welfare, rights, and protection.

Rebecka (Becky) Snyder is the IRB Coordinator for Ascension Healthcare in Wisconsin, one of the leading nonprofit and Catholic health systems in the United States. She has been with Ascension Wisconsin for three years, first as a Regulatory Specialist for industry-funded clinical trials and then as the IRB Coordinator for almost two years. She also served as the IACUC Coordinator at the Medical College of Wisconsin for about eight years, with a brief pause on her professional career in between to enjoy four years as a stay-at-home mom to her wonderful son.

SBER21 and AER21 will be starting in less than two weeks, but there’s still time to sign up! Browse the agendas and register by November 12. Learn more and register online!