Career Planning Tool Developed at UCSF Wins Innovation Award

Bill Lindstaedt, myIDP co-author

A UCSF-authored career development tool has been named the winner of Association of American Medical College's 2013 "Innovation in Research and Research Training" award.

The tool, called "myIDP," is an enhanced, online version of the individual development plan (IDP) concept, which has in recent years gained wide acceptance as a useful way to help students and postdocs in the sciences to plan for their future careers inside or outside of academia. The Biomedical Workforce Working Group Report issued by the National Institutes of Health in 2012 also strongly encouraged adaptation of the IDP, of which there are many printed versions.

The myIDP website offers practical exercises for scientists to help them to think through their career goals and pair their own skills, research interests, and personal values with a variety of available career paths. MyIDP users receive automated reminders about their goals and can revisit the site any time to add or revise their career plans.

"MyIDP surpasses other versions of the tool not only by virtue of being online, but also in the thoughtful way it is written, its depth, and its inclusion of personal life-work balance choices—like whether and when to start a family—in the career planning mix," said Christine Des Jarlais, assistant dean for postdoctoral affairs and career development at UCSF. Des Jarlais has long championed use of the IDP concept at UCSF. "Using myIDP makes it so much easier for students and postdocs to get started thinking about what they really want to do with their lives and the steps they'll need to take to get where they want to be," she enthused.

Bill Lindstaedt, director of the UCSF Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD), co-authored myIDP with Cynthia Fuhrmann, formerly program director of academic career development in the OCPD, who is now the assistant dean for career and professional development at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. (Dr. Fuhrmann still maintains an assistant professor appointment in UCSF's Biochemistry Department.) Philip Clifford at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Jennifer Hobin at FASEB also contributed to the myIDP project. Development of the tool was supported through a grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

MyIDP has already gained 35,000 users since the site was first launched only one year ago, Lindstaedt reported.

The AAMC will present the Award for Innovative Institutional Partnerships in Research and Research Focused Training at its 2013 Graduate Research, Education, and Training Group meeting in Atlanta, Georgia later this month.

The Graduate Division strongly urges all students and postdocs to invest time in planning their careers, to use an IDP, and to check out the myIDP website to see if it's the right tool for them. Get started at Visit the UCSF Office of Career and Professional Development and take advantage of the many excellent workshops, seminars, and resources they offer.

Read a fuller story about myIDP and the AAMC's Innovation Award on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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Story by Jeannine Cuevas