Uncovering a wealth of resources for human research protections programs

by Jackie Tekiela, MS, CIP, Institutional Review Board Administrator at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

As expected, the 2012 Advancing Ethical Research Conference delivered. I returned with huge amounts of information, and many ideas and networking contacts. Now that the holidays have passed, and I’ve about caught up on my work, I’m taking some time to reflect on my experiences and apply some of what I’ve learned.

Some of my goals for the conference were to gather information about evaluating our human research protections program, developing a research education program, and using institutional review board (IRB) metrics to improve performance and quality. None of these are new topics, but being from a small institution, I find it’s particularly helpful to hear about methods and process that others have found helpful when thinking about what might work best for my institution.

I attended a number of sessions that focused on these topics. One presentation I  found particularly useful was Developing and Implementing an Education Program at an Institution With a Small Research Program (B25). During this session, presenters Eric Allen and Michelle Feige focused on ways to develop and implement an education program for small institutions, keeping in mind this often means limited resources.

The session covered the process of developing and evaluating a research education program, from conducting a needs assessment, requesting resources, assessing delivery methods, evaluating the content of various groups, and identifying the impact of training. The group also discussed how to establish the IRB’s value, methods of funding programs, and how to leverage current staff time to get the most out of your education program. The session handouts (available to attendees on the Conference Passport) include sample topics for educational programs for IRB members, staff, and researchers.

A large part of the session focused on resources that any institution can use to evaluate and implement a research education program. Both presenters focused on free or low cost options, which can be especially important to smaller institutions or those with limited resources. Here are some of the resources that were mentioned:

Virtual education: 


Ongoing and at your own pace:


Since I’ve been back, I’ve reviewed many of these options and am excited at how I might incorporate some of these ideas into a reasonable, manageable, and worthwhile research education program at my institution. I hope you find the information useful as well, and please comment below with any other tips that you think may be helpful to others working towards developing and evaluating a research education program.