IACUC16: An Opportunity to Learn and Connect

The first day of PRIM&R’s 2016 IACUC Conference was packed full of informational and networking opportunities. The morning began with the breakfast for first-time attendees. My table group was composed of a non-affiliated IACUC member from Alaska, an IACUC administrator/facility manager from a small institution focused mainly on wildlife in the southwest, a research assistant from southern California, and a vet tech turned IACUC administrator from Ohio. Each person had a unique perspective to share. I could not imagine another setting where I could have such fascinating interactions.

After warm welcomes to the conference from the conference co-chairs, PRIM&R’s Lifetime Achievement Award presentation to Bernie Rollin, Dr. Rollin’s keynote address, and the first panel discussion, I attended the double session titled IACUC Administration for New Administrators/Coordinators. Management of protocol review and routing, semiannual reviews, conducting post-approval monitoring were some of the topics discussed. While the conference guide noted that this session would be similar to the Essentials of IACUC Administration— Intensive pre-conference program I had attended two days prior, I felt this session was presented with a greater focus on customer service.

The presenters shared strategies on how to deal with challenging situations to help foster a culture of compliance. In my introductory blog, I expressed that one of my professional strengths is my customer service background. If the individuals you interact with are made to feel that you are really there to help them and facilitate their work, rather than be a roadblock, I believe that compliance will be the eventual outcome. The presenters, Natalie Mays, Rachel Murray, and Trina Smith, had very positive attitudes that infused their presentations. It was clear that this energy translates into their daily interactions at their home institutions. This made for a very enjoyable and interactive session.

Later, I was able to learn even more by attending sessions on an IACUC administrator’s role in an AAALAC site visit and inter-institutional collaborations. Then, I sat in on a roundtable discussion for IACUC administrators/coordinators. It was great to meet people from different parts of the country with varying degrees of experience. There were two IACUC coordinators I met who began in the lab animal field as animal care technicians. It was wonderful to hear about their backgrounds and how they were able to learn IACUC administration procedures in a similar fashion to how I did. We shared some of our struggles and also some things that worked for us. What a great finish to the information-saturated day!