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College of Graduate Studies

Individual Development Plan

Individual Development Plans  (lDPs) provide a planning process that identifies  both professional  development  needs and career objectives.   Furthermore, lDPs serve as a communication tool between individuals and their mentors.   An lDP can be considered one component of a broader mentoring  program  that needs to be instituted by  all types of research institutions.   This development plan is being designed to help Graduate students  think about their professional  development  needs as they proceed through  their didactic,  research and clinical training experiences.

Help individuals identify:
Long-term career goals they wish to pursue and the necessary tools to meet these; and Short-term needs for achieving milestones toward short term and long-term career goals.

Trainees will have a process that assists in developing long-term goals. Identifying short-term goals will give them a clearer sense of expectations and help identify milestones along the way to achieving specific objectives.   The lDP also provides a tool for communication between the trainee and a faculty research mentor, advisor, program  director or associate  program director.

Outline of lDP Process
The development, implementation and revision of the lDP requires a series of steps to be conducted by the trainee and their respective  advisor/mentor. These steps are an interactive effort, and so both the trainee and the advisor/mentor  must participate  fully in the process.

Execution of the IDP Process

Step 1. Conduct a Self Assessment.

  • Assess your skills, strengths and areas which need development.   Formal assessment tools can be helpful.
  • Take a realistic look at your current abilities.   This is a critical part of career planning.
  • Ask your peers, mentors, family and friends what they see as your strengths and your development needs.
  • Outline your long-term career objectives.
  • Ask yourself:
    o   What type of work would I like to be doing?
    o   Where would I like to be in an organization?
    o   What is important to me in a career?

Step 2. Discuss Opportunities with Advisor or Mentor. 

  • Identify your ideal career opportunities.
  • Identify developmental needs by comparing  current skills and strengths  with those needed for your career choice.

Prioritize your developmental areas and discuss with your advisor or mentor how these should be addressed.

Step 3. Write an lDP.

  • The lDP maps out the general path you want to take and helps match skills and strengths to your career choices.   It is a changing document, since needs and goals will almost certainly evolve over time.   The aim is to build upon current strengths and skills by identifying areas for development and providing a way to address these.   The specific objectives of a typical lDP are to:
  • Establish effective dates for the duration of your time as a trainee.
  • Identify specific skills and strengths that you need to develop  (based on discussions with your advisor/mentor)
  • Define the approaches to obtain the specific skills and strengths  (e.g., courses,  technical skills, teaching,  supervision)  together  with anticipated  time frames.
  • Discuss your draft IDP with your advisor/mentor.
  • Revise the lDP as appropriate.

Step 4. Implement Your Plan.

  • The plan is just the beginning of the career development process  and serves  as the road map. Now it's time to take action!

Step 5. Put your plan into action.

  • Revise and modify the plan as necessary.   The plan is not cast in concrete; it will need to be modified as circumstances and goals change.   The challenge of implementation is to remain flexible and open to change.  Review the plan with your advisor/mentor at least yearly This is important since you will transition back and forth from medical school and graduate school.  Revise the plan on the basis of these discussions.

For Advisors/Mentors

Step 1. Become familiar with available opportunities.

  • By virtue of your experience you should already have knowledge of some career opportunities.

Step  2. Discuss opportunities with trainee.

  • This  needs to be a private, scheduled  meeting  distinct from regular research-specific meetings. There  should be adequate  time set aside for an open and honest  discussion.

Step  3. Review lDP and help revise.

  • Provide   honest  feedback  -  both positive and negative  - to help trainee set  realistic goals.    Agree on a development plan that will allow trainees to be productive in the classroom and laboratory and adequately  prepare them for their chosen career.

Step  4. Establish regular review of progress.

  • The  advisor/mentor  should meet at regular intervals (at least yearly)  with the trainee to assess progress, expectations and changing  goals.   On at least an annual basis, the advisor/mentor  should conduct a performance  review  designed  to analyze what has been accomplished  and what needs to be done.  A written review is most helpful in objectively documenting  accomplishments.

Individual Development Plan Policy

Individual Development Plan

(a modification of the FASEB IDP template)


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