A Follow Up to PRIM&R’s 2016 IACUC Conference

It really is amazing how quickly time flies. When I think of attending PRIM&R’s 2016 IACUC Conference, it seems like just yesterday. Upon returning to my daily routine, I opened my toolbox of knowledge and have yet to close it. Many of the tools I had gathered are being implemented daily. Here are some examples.

The first set of tools includes learning the three Ps of managing policy, procedures, and protocol review processes. Since my return, I have embraced the administrative role of my home institution’s IACUC protocol review. The recommended written procedures, key reminders, and templates gathered during the pre-conference program, Essentials of IACUC Administration—Intensive, have proven invaluable. As my training is progressing, my understanding of the processes has been exponentially enhanced with what I learned. With greater confidence, I am now better equipped to ask the “right” questions and provide clearer directions, resulting in improved communication with my institution’s animal care and use program constituents.

Another heavy-duty tool that I am working with is my awareness of compassion fatigue. In my roles as a veterinary technician and a family caregiver, compassion fatigue was a very tangible thing in my life already. After attending the session about compassion fatigue at the NWABR Conference, I became acutely aware of its effect in my administrative role. Each day, I read through protocols with a new perspective, asking myself several questions as I go: Is this protocol being evaluated with harm versus benefit clearly in mind? How is animal welfare being addressed? Does this study have the probability of impacting the research, veterinary, and animal care personnel who will be working directly with these animals? The answers may be different for each protocol, but the importance of asking questions like these is always applicable.

Opportunities to meet new people from varied backgrounds, geographical locations, institution types, and experience at the conference was one of the most valuable tools I received. At what other venue could you discuss similar struggles and workable solutions face to face? Each person I spoke with provided a nuggets of wisdom to add to my toolbox. These nuggets included useful study tips for the Certified Professional IACUC Administrator (CPIA®) test. Based on a suggestion I received while networking, I have begun to create flash cards, in addition to reviewing the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and the Animal Welfare Act and USDA Animal Welfare Regulations.

It has been exciting to start implementing some of the knowledge and tools I gathered during the conference. I look forward to continuing to make good use of them over the next year until the opportunity to sharpen them comes up at PRIM&R’s 2017 IACUC Conference in New Orleans. I hope to see you there.

Heidi Lewis, RVT, RLATG is the IACUC compliance coordinator in the Office of Research Integrity at the University of Kansas, and a member of PRIM&R’s Blog Squad.