By Angela Craig, DVM, lab animal veterinarian and IACUC member at the University of Minnesota
PRIM&R is pleased to share a post from Angela Craig, 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 will blog here, on Ampersand, to give our readers an inside peek of what is happening at the conference in Boston, MA.
When I attend a conference, I have a habit of taking copious notes in every session. I more accurately remember what I hear when I write while listening. I have been known to wear out a pen or two in a single day. But I know that this strategy has inherent pitfalls. When I return to work, I will be too busy to review my notes again. My writing may not be legible enough to share with others, particularly my post-prandial scribbling. My solution is to review the notes and write out my top take home messages each evening after the sessions conclude. This compact list of "gems" contains a wealth of information - the key points, additional resources, and ideas for improvements I learned throughout the day that are most applicable to the animal program I serve.
An important take home message that arose from the Essentials of IACUC Administration course was the responsibility of the IACUC Administrator to "know and disseminate requirements and expectations." Marcy Brown, BS, MA, CPIA; Deb Frolicher, BS, CPIA; and Mary Jo Shepherd, DVM, CPIA each touched on this important theme throughout their presentations, including the portion dedicated to the training of IACUC members. Three of my favorite bullet points were from a slide with tips for helping new IACUC members:
- Schedule a tour of the animal facilities
- Team new IACUC members up with an experienced member for mentorship
- Solicit feedback
Each of these encourages dissemination of information and communicates expectations. Members should see the program's animals in the facilities to more fully appreciate their responsibility for promoting mindful and humane use. Mentorship is a personal way to provide training and education in the context of the member's duties. It lets new members show what they know in a supportive environment, and builds in an easy way for them to ask questions and check their understanding. By soliciting feedback from new members, they communicate their own expectations and are able to contribute to improvements in the training plan that will benefit themselves and their colleagues.
IACUC administrators have an important role in welcoming and training new members, but a show of hands in the audience during the session quickly revealed the breadth of their responsibilities. They cannot do it alone. Therefore, it is clear that all members must share the knowledge they have gained through their service on the committee, and their experiences with the animal use program. All of us are responsible for understanding our regulatory requirements and communicating expectations, regardless of role.
During the course, I enjoyed hearing the questions and feedback from the audience. I learned new information and ideas that will be transcribed onto my list of important take-home messages tonight. I am sincerely grateful to all who disseminated their knowledge, from the podium to the back row. I hope you'll join me in making your own list of gems and share the wealth when you return home.