Professional development is a two-way street

by Royell Sullivan, IRB Education Specialist at the New York University School of Medicine

It has only been a few months since the 2012 Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Conference, but it seems as though the 2013 AER Conference is just around the corner, and I am certainly excited for what is in store.

I really enjoyed attending the 2012 AER Conference, a fact that I initially attributed to having gained more experienced as a human research protections professional since my first time attending. However, I am starting to realize that my role in interactive conference activities helped to keep me tuned in to what was going on in the world of research ethics. Take, for example, my place on the PRIM&R Blog Squad, which encouraged me to really focus in my sessions and challenged me to think critically about what I was learning. I really feel that more members of the human research protections community should look into serving on PRIM&R’s Blog Squad.

I believe that successful professional development involves effort from both the teacher and the learner. It’s great being able to attend and participate in panels and workshops, because so much is gained when discussions take place. The part I enjoy most is when people start asking questions about specific issues or situations that their institutions are facing because it gives me a chance to learn about their processes and hear about the challenges that others are facing. I might even discover a few solutions to issues I am confronting.

The annual poster presentations at the AER Conference offer a similar benefit. I like being able to hear about what does and does not work for my peers, while sharing my own experiences.

As you begin looking ahead to the 2013 AER Conference, I want to encourage you to get involved! Attend conferences whenever you can! For some of us, getting there can be a struggle—approval can be difficult to obtain, but look into scholarships or other programs such as the PRIM&R Blog Squad. Once you get to the conference, really take advantage of all that it has to offer and get involved. You can start small. Ask a few questions or offer a few suggestions when you’re sitting in a workshop. Submit a poster abstract about the pros and cons of a new process being implemented at your institution. For those of you who are already doing the things I mentioned above, I simply urge you to keep doing what you are doing!

It may take a bit more time and effort, but it is completely worth it. So, put what you have to offer out there and we will all benefit.