If you’re an NIH-funded graduate student or postdoctoral researcher (or the mentor of one) you need to know about this: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is encouraging the development and use of Individual Development Plans (IDP) for every graduate student and postdoc supported by an NIH grant, regardless of funding mechanism.
A link to the Notice can be found here.
Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, explains the NIH’s policy on IDPs in a recent post on the NIH blog, “Rock Talk.”
Lisa Schwiebert, UAB Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education, has long encouraged the use of a personalized document such as an IDP.
“The IDP is an instrument that offers a trainee and his or her mentor an opportunity to discuss the goals and objectives for not only the research project but also the trainee's selected career path," Dr. Schwiebert notes. "In this manner, the IDP serves as a 'working template' that should be updated and revised regularly throughout the training experience in order to guide the trainee's progress toward the stated research and career goals.”
The CCTS Training Academy’s Mentoring Contract is another starting point for formalizing mentoring relationships.
Additional resources for postdocs and their mentors include “My IDP,” a website for to assist PhD scientists in developing a career plan, which provides exercises to examine skills, interests, and values; a list of 20 scientific career paths with a prediction of which best fit an individual’s skills and interests; and a tool for setting strategic goals for the coming year. Participation in the site requires a login and password.
The National Postdoctoral Association website also offers several career planning resources.