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Information for Faculty about Individual Development Plans (IDPs)

NIH wants to know about your mentoring of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for their career choices.  On your next non-competitive renewal of your NIH funding, you will be asked to identify whether your trainees have an individual development plan and how you have advised them to achieve the career goals

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  • Background

    In July, 2013, NIH issued a notice (NOT-OD-13-093) to encourage institutions to develop IDPs for their graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.  Their rationale was “It is important to assist graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to achieve their career goals and become contributing members of the biomedical research workforce.”  In August, 2014, NIH issued a revised notice (NOT-OD-14-113), describing a process for monitoring compliance with this directive by PIs on research and other grants.

  • What is required of NIH-funded PIs?

    NIH progress reports using the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) must include a report on the use of IDPs in Section B. Accomplishments, Question B.4.  Actual IDPs should not be included.  Instead, grantees will report on whether they use IDPs for all the graduate students and postdoctoral researchers included in Section D. list of Participants.    The use of IDPs as well as the manner in which IDPs are used is expected to be determined by the awardee institution, but the RPPR will include a brief description of how and whether IDPs are used to help manage the career development of students and postdocs associated with that award.   A similar response is required for all T, F, K, R25, R13, D43 and other awards or award components designed to provide training and professional development opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

    Reminder, the RPPR is currently required for all type 5 progress reports submitted using a Streamlined Non-Competing Award Process (SNAP), and will be required for all non-SNAP progress reports submitted on/after October 17, 2014 (see NOT-OD-13-035 and NOT-OD-14-092). - See more at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-14-113.html#sthash.1Liduk0u.dpuf

  • What do PIs need to do to satisfy these NIH requirements?
    • We encourage you to talk with your graduate students and postdoctoral fellows about their IDPs and guide them to the resources that they need to accomplish their career objectives.  Depending on their goals, you might advise them to take additional research and/or professional development training (e.g., writing skills, presentations, fellowship writing)
    • Information about how to check whether or not your trainee has completed IDP training will be forthcoming.
    • In your annual progress report, describe how you have encouraged your trainees to achieve their individual career goals:
      • Have you reviewed their IDP with them?  Has their advisory committee reviewed their IDP? 
      • Have you directed them toward resources that would help them accomplish the goals?
    • Guidance from NIH program officers suggests that your progress report provide no more than 2-3 sentences regarding institutional support (see below for some possible language you could use).  The majority of your response describing your personal efforts to advise and mentor your trainees based on a plan that is individually tailored to them.
  • What has UAB provided to trainees to facilitate the IDP process?

    The Graduate School, working with the GBS theme directors, the MSTP, and the Office of Postdoctoral Education, has organized training sessions for graduate students, postdocs and other trainees to begin an IDP, using the MyIDP website (https://myidp.sciencecareers.org).  In Fall 2014, we held several IDP training sessions for graduate students and postdocs.  Theme and program directors are responsible for assuring and documenting IDP instruction and participation. Evidence of IDP use includes documented attendance at IDP training sessions or provision of a screenshot of a myIDP Summary Personal Information page. As of October 1, 2014, most new and current GBS students and about 50% of current postdoctoral fellows have attended one of these training sessions and/or have started an IDP; IDP training will be incorporated into all future trainee orientations, beginning in Oct. 2014.  Individual programs may have requirements for additional IDP training activities and/or IDP inclusion in student committee meetings. Dr. Jeffrey Engler, Interim Dean of the Graduate School, is keeping a list of those students who have attended a training session, in case NIH decides to audit our compliance. 

    Trainees’ reaction to these IDP sessions has generally been favorable.  In the sessions, we have encouraged the trainees to revisit their IDP plans every 3 to 6 months.  We have also encouraged them to share their IDP with their mentors, their committee members, the theme directors, and anyone else who could help them develop the skills and knowledge needed to achieve their career goals.

  • Language that PIs may want to include about UAB’s support of IDPs for all trainees

    “UAB provides all trainees with information about the benefits of individual development plans for their desired career outcomes.  Training sessions for new and continuing trainees are provided throughout the year, including an introduction to the myIDP website.  UAB provides many options by which trainees can receive advice about career planning, including a full-time staff person dedicated to both pre- and post-doctoral trainee advising in the UAB Career Services Office (Jami Armbrester) and bimonthly drop-in IDP consultations sponsored by the UAB CCTS.”

    After this text, each PI should describe his/her own mentoring and training activities.  For example, have you participated in the Faculty Mentoring Academies or other activities provided by UAB or other institutions (University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-Madison)?  What conversations have you had with your trainees on your grants and to what activities have you directed them to build their skill sets for their chosen career paths?

  • Resources to train faculty in mentoring and career advising
  • Resources to which to direct graduate students, postdocs and other trainees
  • Examples of Individual Development Plans