Workshops and Sessions and Scenarios, Oh My!

Making a choice amongst the didactic sessions and workshops offered at the PRIM&R’s 2018 IACUC Conference (IACUC18) was a difficult task. I was not disappointed in any of the selections I made and came home with great tidbits from each session I attended!

At my institution we frequently struggle with recruiting IACUC members and then keeping them on the committee once they realize the required time commitment. In a session titled “Keeping the Key Players in Your Animal Care and Use Program Informed and Engaged,” Helen O’Meara, Jo Ann Henry, and Ernie Prentice, PhD, shared fantastic strategies for keeping committee members informed and engaged. I think perhaps one of the biggest take-home message for me was that all committee members need to be recruited knowing exactly what will be expected of them and then kept interested in staying on the IACUC through incentives. Several attendees shared the perks used at their institutions to retain committee members, which included lunches during meetings, holiday parties, continuing education opportunities, and even the committee members being paid for their service on the IACUC.

Meanwhile, I’ll confess to being a bit hesitant about the two-part workshop “Meeting the Challenges in IACUC Administration: Case Studies in Handling Complex Protocol Issues/Situations.” In my experience, interactive sessions using scenarios and case studies can be tricky, and good discussion relies heavily on both the presenters and attendees.  The case studies presented by Eileen Morgan, Dr. Dana Miller and Dr. Stacy Pritt were fresh and thought-provoking. I’m sure many of us that have been in compliance for more than a few years have encountered “you just can’t make this stuff up” scenarios and we were assured that the case studies being discussed were based in true-life happenings. Not only was it educational to talk through these case studies with others, but getting the perspective of individuals from OLAW and USDA was exceptionally helpful.  One of the perks of these meetings is sharing the “joys of victory and the agony of defeat” with likeminded professionals from around the world.  During this two-part advanced workshop we did just that and I don’t think any scenario was discussed where someone didn’t share that they had experienced “something just like this case” at their institution. I am eager to use some of the case studies we discussed for future continuing education within the IACUC at my institution.

Some of my favorite takeaways from other sessions I attended included fantastic ideas about the power of positive communication and a much better understanding of both OLAW and USDA departures and how to document and track them.

In my next post, I’ll share a look at the keynote addresses and panel discussions at IACUC18.  Spoiler alert: Kleenex was being very freely passed out after the Wednesday morning keynote address by Alison Rockett Frase and Dr. Martin Childers.

Katherine Branson, CPIA, has been involved in research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) for over 30 years. After graduation, she started coordinating the 100-level Physiology labs to give herself some time to decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. That job led to lab manager positions in a variety of research labs across campus where she worked with a multitude of species. A chance meeting with a secretary in the clearance aisle at Walmart (true story) led to Ms. Branson applying for a position in the newly-created University of Illinois IACUC office. PRIM&R meetings helped her develop and define the procedures and policies for the UIUC IACUC and separate them from those of the Division of Animal Resources. After thirteen plus years as an IACUC Administrator, she still finds PRIM&R webinars and meetings invaluable for networking and learning about her ever-changing role in the world of research compliance. Ms. Branson’s years as a lab manager/lab technician also provide her insight for her current role of IACUC Specialist. She now spends less time pondering what she wants to be when she grows up… somehow she lucked into doing exactly what she loves. 

Members of PRIM&R’s Blog Squad and other guest contributors are valued members of our community willing to share their insights. The views expressed in their posts do not necessarily reflect those of PRIM&R or its employees.

IACUC18 Conference Proceedings are now available for purchase (attendees received the link to the proceedings for free). PRIM&R’s 2019 IACUC Conference (IACUC19), will take place April 1-3 in Bellevue, WA, in conjunction with the NWABR Regional IACUC Conference on April 4. We are currently accepting session proposals (until August 24, 2018) and poster abstracts (until October 5, 2018) for IACUC19.