Me-time: The best tool for professional development

 by Royell Sullivan, Institutional Review Board (IRB) Education Specialist at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine

On Wednesday, I attended session D5, How to Grow Your IRB Career: Professional Development and Networking, presented by Charlotte Coley, MACT, CIP; Karen Hansen; and Yvonne Higgins, CIP. I was really excited for this presentation because as a newbie in the world of human research protections, I am looking to discover what I will need to do to advance within this field. Deciding that you would like to pursue a career in human research protections entails knowing your environment, knowing what it will offer you, and identifying potential areas of growth. The session offered helpful tips for the beginner to keep in mind. I work as an IRB education specialist, and while I am interested in growing my own career, I also want to know how I can help my colleagues do the same. The speakers encouraged us to read constantly, take advantage of internal training, and check job listings frequently. I agree with these concepts but my staff often argues that there just is not enough time. Today, I asked for a solution to this. The response I was given was simple: MAKE TIME!

As an administrator, your day-to-day tasks and turn-around time are important. But not taking the opportunity to enhance your knowledge of all things IRB-related will hinder your professional growth. Make professional advancement a priority by taking full advantage of the resources you have. Take every opportunity to network both within and outside of your institution. Master the easy tasks of your job and take the time to improve in areas that you find difficult instead of avoiding them. Doing so will help to transform your job into a career.

To acquire responsibilities that you have never had, you will have to do things that you have never done. You may have to do what makes you nervous or uncomfortable in order to yield positive results. You must clarify your goals and communicate them to your institution’s leadership. Explain to them how helping you grow can benefit the institution at large. You may find that they nurture your goals and motivate you to keep pushing forward. If you have decided that you want a career instead of just a job and you do not see opportunity for growth where you are at the present time, move on.

If you really want a career in the field, come to terms with the fact that what you are doing from 9 to 5 each day is not going to get you where you want to go. I don’t know about you, but I find dead ends to be quite scary. Take the time to keep your paths open and boundless.