Continuing Education for IACUC Members


Problem statement: Providing continuing education for IACUC members can be challenging. IACUC members may play several roles at an institution, making their availability for training difficult. Community member’s schedules may also be difficult to accommodate. Additionally, the IACUC may find themselves inundated with protocols and amendments such that there is less time and energy for training. Until recently, our continuing education program only consisted of a standard “refresher” IACUC presentation annually. We wanted to find additional continuing education opportunities to help our members grow and utilize these on a regular basis in addition to the annual refresher training. We aimed to create ways to access resources and accomplish training that could be easily implemented at any institution. We expect these continuing education opportunities to engage all IACUC members and create a more educated and informed IACUC.

Description of research: We looked at different ways of implementing a formalized ongoing training program for our IACUC members and found that no single method seemed to fit. To truly create a comprehensive training program you must utilize a variety of methods and resources. Many institutions use computer based or online modules. Although these are useful, we found that these don’t readily engage members and don’t promote discussion or problem solving. Our training program utilizes multiple methods. We give a standardized on board training presentation for IACUC members capturing the essence of the regulations and the roles and responsibilities of IACUC members. We provide a resource binder and CD, along with a training session on the contents and how to use them. We continue to provide an annual training that includes updates on the regulations and relevant topics. Topics such as “How to Review a Protocol,” presenting the regulatory basis for the review requirements, a checklist for ease of review and some helpful tips, and “Cost/Benefit Analysis,” introducing a more formalized process to assess the ethical impact of animal research are included. One of the most efficient and effective ways we are able to incorporate continuing education is through discussion of the “Protocol Review” article in Lab Animal magazine at our monthly meetings. We have a different member present the article and lead discussion each month. This ensures participation by all members. We also utilize the monthly meetings to present any interesting articles or updates from regulatory agencies. We take advantage of webinars from National Association for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Society for Medical Research and other organizations whenever we can and try to always have at least one member attend these so they can present main points to the rest of the committee. Utilizing the monthly meetings to provide a more structured continuing education program has proven to be effective. The time is allocated as part of the scheduled meetings so does not create an additional burden. All members have been actively participating in these discussions. Our annual trainings are mandatory for all members. These do require some flexibility of the presenter/trainer as sometimes multiple sessions are required to capture all members. The feedback for these has been positive and application of knowledge obtained from these sessions is apparent in the day to day interactions of our IACUC. Utilizing myriad resources and methods for continuing education sustains interest among IACUC members and provides opportunities for all to participate effectively and efficiently. Since implementing additional training resources, we have observed more thorough protocol review, more application of critical thinking, and have developed the ability to identify potential issues before they arise. This program has been successful at our institution and we believe it can be implemented at institutions of any size. Continuing education for IACUC members can consist of frequent sessions and can promote a culture of ongoing discussion, sharing and learning.