Limited resources, unlimited education

by Andy Burman, PRIM&R Blog Squad member

PRIM&R is pleased to bring you blog posts from the PRIM&R Blog Squad during the 2010 Advancing Ethical Research Conference. The PRIM&R Blog Squad will be blogging every day from the conference, so continue to check back for updates.
Yesterday afternoon, I attended a session called Developing an Education Program with Limited Resources. This session was hosted by Scott Lipkin, DPM, CIP, associate vice president of research, Lehigh Valley Health Network, and Brenda Ruotolo, CIP, CIM, associate director, Columbia University IRB.In our current economic environment, it can be difficult for an institution to invest financial resources into an education program. However, it is important to remember that the cost of being noncompliant due to lack of education can be much more expensive to your institution’s financial bottom line, and do significant damage to its brand.With that being said, there is good news. There are inexpensive ways to educate researchers, institutional officials, IRB members, and IRB support staff. Some of the ideas that the faculty suggested were:

  1. Consider forming a consortium with other IRBs in your area so that you can share costs and personnel resources when creating and/or viewing training.
  2. Hold monthly workshops for clinical research coordinators to discuss an important topic.
  3. Offer regular office hours so researchers can approach you with questions in person.
  4. Have a discussion series using an applicable book or movie.
  5. Consider making research a formal credential that physicians must earn and maintain at your institution. This way, principal investigators will have to be more involved with your education programs.
  6. At your regular IRB meetings, take five minutes to educate IRB members on a given topic. If IRB members can even choose the topics and facilitate the trainings themselves.
  7. Host “brown bag” sessions for the research community.
  8. No matter what training you offer, consider having food available. If food is available, folks are more likely to come.

The biggest takeaway of the session was, when it comes to training, the only way to do it wrong is not to do it. So go for it. Get educating!