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General Explanation of IDPs

Fellows' Career Development

General Explanation of IDPs

Fellows' Career Development

General Explanation of IDPs

(Source: Jackie Lavigne, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief, Office of Education, Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, National Cancer Institute)

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a personalized, interactive, and dynamic action plan for use in establishing training and career goals and specific objectives. It can be used for the purposes of tracking progress, providing feedback, facilitating ongoing communication, and/or outlining a path to career success. The IDP leverages principles of adult learning to optimize the mentor-protégé relationship, the foundation upon which effective training rests. Preparing an IDP often requires a prior reflective or explicit self-assessment of values, skills and interests so that career objectives can be defined, short and long-term goals set, and an action plan developed. Once established, IDPs should then be revisited at least once per year because individuals who have (and maintain) specific goals are more motivated and more likely to achieve those goals. In 2012, the Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group concluded: "NIH should require IDPs for all NIH-supported postdoctoral researchers, whether on training grants, fellowships, or research project grants."

Benefits of IDPs

  • Improves satisfaction and relationships by serving as an effective expectation-setting mechanism
  • Helps clarify career goals early on
  • Helps manage time and resources more efficiently
  • Increases chances of following–through on projects
  • Increases productivity by focusing efforts

Key Points Regarding IDPs

  • IDPs are intended to be used as CAREER PLANNING and COMMUNICATION TOOLS
  • FELLOWS are responsible for creating and renewing their IDPs in collaboration with their mentors