PAM: It’s more than Post-Approval Monitoring; It’s also Personality And Management “Style”

By Kathy Banks, BSc, MSc, continuing review coordinator, animal ethics, University of British Columbia 

PRIM&R is pleased to share a post from Kathy Banks, a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad for the 2015 Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Conference. The PRIM&R Blog Squad is composed of PRIM&R members who blog here, on Ampersand, to give our readers an inside peek of what happened during the conference in Boston, MA.

As the PAM Coordinator at the University of British Columbia (UBC), the session I was most looking forward to at the 2015 IACUC Conference was C11: Attaining a New Performance Plateau Through Post-Approval Monitoring (PAM). I was hoping to glean some insight from the presenters and make connections with PAM personnel from other institutions. I was eager to learn of everyone’s successes and failures, how they set up their programs, how they handle non-compliance issues, how their reporting structure works, and more. Frankly, I wanted to pick everyone’s brains (networking at its finest!) and use their good ideas to make the UBC program better.
I was not disappointed, to say the least.
The three presenters, Christina Nascimento, CPIA, MS, Sandra L. Wilkins, LVT, RLATG, CPIA, and Jon D. Reuter, DVM, MPVM, DACLAM, were fantastic. They brought their unique perspectives on all things PAM at their institutions (which ranged from large to small, public to private), openly sharing their ideas with us. I have to extend my thanks for all of their insight during their presentations and during the question/answer period. Many of the issues they faced setting up their programs (such as principal investigator (PI) buy-in, communication tips, strategies for resistance to the PAM process, etc.), UBC has faced. Much of the evolution their programs have undergone, UBC is/has undergone (including selecting the best number of PAM personnel, defining and redefining what the program is, and developing procedures for how PAM visits work). It was also reassuring to hear from them, and several others in the audience, that we’re all doing very similar things to ensure PAM compliance within our institutions, regardless of the governing bodies to which we report.
The predominant messages/issues of this session were all very familiar to me – you need researcher/PI buy-in (if nothing else, you “kill them with kindness”), you need good communication (both ways, in whatever form works for you and them), you need people who have the right personality (to keep things positive even when they’re not) and skill set (ideally a history in animal research), and you need trust (both ways). But the biggest discussion point, reiterated by everyone (and something I will hold in my back pocket), was the emphasis on the fact that PAM personnel are NOT the “police.” Everyone in the room— from the speakers to the PAM personnel in the audience who hailed from all over the United States (and elsewhere)—emphasized how PAM should be seen as a resource, an educational tool, and a point of contact. This is the principle the UBC PAM team has been using since it started, and will continue to use as we move forward.
I came out of this session with a new found sense of purpose, several new ideas, and a new network of colleagues. the 2015 IACUC Conference was a long few days, but I was glad to be here, and I am already planning for the 2016 IACUC Conference meeting in Bellevue, WA (which is on my side of the continent this time, making it even more enticing). See you in 2016!