Over the years, I have attended many PRIM&R conferences—the programming is always strong, the speakers excellent, and the content cutting edge. However, these things are not what keep me coming back.

Working in the field of human subjects protections, I am constantly immersed in gray—no one rule can be applied to every situation and no one situation boils down to one rule. In the absence of black and white answers, I am endowed only with the knowledge of core ethical principles and the support of colleagues and peers. It is this very support, which is found in abundance at PRIM&R’s conferences and through the membership community that keeps me coming back to the organization.

Over the years my involvement in the organization has grown. I currently serve on PRIM&R’s membership committee. Perhaps it is ironic, only in this capacity have I come to realize that networking, which is so vital to understanding and making sense of those gray areas, does not have to end at the conference. Take, for instance, PRIM&R Regional Connections—who knew that PRIM&R had a program to help "fund events for members to share resources and engage in debate"?

Even if you do know about the program, I’ll bet that you haven't paid much attention to it, or, like me, you simply think you don’t have enough time to put a program together.

For years, starting with my first year on the Applied Research Ethics National Association (ARENA) Council and now, as a member of the membership committee, I’ve heard about PRIM&R Regional Connections. I’ve reviewed requests for funding. I’ve watched other PRIM&R members dedicate time and effort to developing an easy-to-use, relevant toolkit of tips and ideas. I encouraged others to host a program and take advantage of this member benefit, all the while thinking that it sounds great; but I do not have time.

Several weeks ago I found myself once again saying that I wanted to host a program. Someday. When I have time. Then a little voice in my head challenged me to make time, and before I had a chance to silence that voice, I was planning a PRIM&R Regional Connections event. The moment I said it I wanted to take it back. But I took a deep breath and decided to stick with it. The task of figuring out how to make it happen and where to begin loomed in front of me— the very part that had always seemed the most overwhelming.

With lots of encouragement and guidance from PRIM&R staff and fellow members, I realized that it’s not nearly as difficult as I had built it up to be. I made some basic decisions: length - half-day; location – on site at my institution; date – that was easy as the availability of the space was limited. Next came who to invite. PRIM&R staff provided me with a list of everyone in the PRIM&R database from Mississippi. That gave me a place to start. I am still contacting people, trying to identify the human research protections professionals and institutional review board members at each location, but everyone we’ve talked to so far has expressed great interest in the program.

Over the next few months, I will be joining you on Ampersand to share my struggles and successes as I work to facilitate a PRIM&R Regional Connections program. As my journey continues, I welcome you to join me by sharing any advice, guidance or questions that you might have!

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2 thoughts on “Oh the places ethics will go: PRIM&R Regional Connections

  1. Anonymous

    How is your planning going? I've organized one regional conference and am eager to host another but am struggling to find affordable speakers. As a state university, budgets are tight. How does one plan an interesting and sought after conference on a shoestring budget?

  2. Anonymous

    Planning is going very well. All of the invitees have expressed a great deal of interest and we're expecting a capacity crowd! I too am at a state university with a tight budget. Bringing in outside speakers was out of the question. It is only with the help of PRIM&R's Regional Connections program that our conference is able to occur at all. PRIM&R's wonderful staff and members put together a toolkit, filled with great ideas and planning tips. A new and improved toolkit will debut on the website shortly – be on the lookout for it. It has been invaluable and helped me think outside the box for what my conference could be and the form it should take. We looked internally for speakers this time, but I plan to comb the audience for the next. Another idea is to use Skype or other such services to bring speakers in real time without the cost, including representatives from FDA and OHRP. I'll write a follow up to let people know how it went, but at this point I've already started planning for next year!