Each year, 150 of our medicine scholarship program's first-year medical and dental students embark on a required project. Many program projects meet the definition of human research, requiring IRB review. However, new students often lack specific knowledge about the IRB and application requirements. To address this need, the IRB created a series of workshops aimed at improving the student application process. The workshops, held weekly between February and April 2015, were intended to be didactic and collaborative, offering an informational presentation by an IRB reviewer followed by project-specific questions and answers. The goals of the workshop series were to educate Scholars in Medicine students about the role of the IRB, to guide them through the application process, and to create a positive submission experience.
Pre- and post-workshop surveys were administered to students to help evaluate the usefulness of the workshops and overall satisfaction with the sessions. Prior to the workshop attendees reported that 50% were somewhat/vaguely familiar with human subjects research, 75% were somewhat/vaguely familiar on what the IRB does, and 100% were somewhat/vaguely, or not at all familiar with the IRB application requirements. Following the workshop, 75% of attendees reported now being familiar/very familiar with human subjects research and the role of the IRB, and 88% reported that they were now familiar/very familiar with the IRB application requirements. Fifty percent of the attendees reported feeling prepared/very prepared to submit their applications. Finally, 100% of the attendees reported that they would recommend the workshop to their peers.
In addition to survey feedback, submission statistics were analyzed from the IRB’s electronic database. When comparing the 2014 submissions to those received to date for 2015 (January 1-April 15 for both years), turnaround time between submission and approval decreased from 22 to 13 days. Overall, the workshops had a direct effect on student preparedness, understanding of the application process, and submission completeness and accuracy, which resulted in reduced turnaround time.
Our 2015 student IRB workshops are something our institution will continue to develop and implement, and would recommend for other institutions. Our students responded to a ‘less is more’ approach with concise information delivered in a straightforward way. Based on the feedback provided, the students benefited greatly from the question and answer session and favor one-on-one attention. We also plan to further develop the process by turning the workshop into a webinar and enhancing submission information available to students on our website.