Article: Clear and Confident Decision-Making: CIPs Distinguish Themselves in the Workplace

Ilene Wilets, PhD, CIP
Executive Director, IRB
New York State Psychiatric Institute
Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University

Q: How did you become involved with HRPP/IRB work?
My graduate training was as a biostatistician and research methodologist. Over the years, I worked with faculty and students in the fields of substance abuse and emergency medicine research, assisting in the design, conduct, and analysis of human subjects research. Both positions enabled me to serve as an IRB member, which I found to be genuinely interesting and exciting. During this time, I became interested in issues pertaining to informed consent and voluntariness, and found that I could pursue these scholarly interests while working within a human research protections program.

Q: At what point did you realize that you wanted to advance in the field?
When I was in my first position at an academic medical center in New York, I did not even realize there was a HRPP/IRB field in which to advance! I believe that I was the first within my institution to attend PRIM&R’s annual AER Conference. 

My career trajectory became much clearer to me once I fully experienced all that PRIM&R had to offer. Participation in my first conference was a life-altering event. I was thrilled to be surrounded by professionals who shared some of the same concerns I had as an IRB member, and was delighted to bear witness to, and have a voice in, important debates within the field.  

Q: How did you learn of the CIP® credential?
I learned about the CIP credential when I was appointed as vice chair to an IRB. I had served as a board member for a number of years, and had not known about the credential. However, when I began to serve in a leadership capacity, I felt that I needed additional training and support. A number of our office staff had recently become certified, and these individuals seemed so very clear and confident in their IRB decision-making. This largely influenced me to seek CIP certification. 

Q: What piece of advice do you wish to pass along to others who are contemplating certification?
If one is working with an IRB and wishes to fully understand human subject protections regulations and the ethics underlying such regulation, preparing and sitting for the CIP examination is the way to go! If you wish to advance in the field, becoming a CIP is an important step, as it will render you a highly proficient IRB professional and demonstrate your commitment towards the protection of human subjects. 

I personally found the CIP experience to be immensely gratifying and rewarding. It has afforded me additional professional recognition, opportunities, and challenges. If you are earnest about working in the field, and are contemplating certification, my advice is to take the leap! You will not be disappointed.