Article: Investing in CIP Exam Preparation

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Investing in CIP® Exam Preparation: An Organization-Sponsored CIP® Prep Course

Employers are increasingly seeking human subjects protections professionals who have earned their CIP® (Certified IRB Professional) qualification. Because test-preparation tools are limited for this comprehensive exam, some organizations have created CIP exam training courses for their employees. Read how one such organization, Chesapeake Research Review, Inc., is helping prepare their employees for the exam. 


Investing in CIP Exam Preparation

Janet C. Donnelly, CIP, RAC
Director of Compliance
Chesapeake Research Review, Inc.

Chesapeake Research Review, Inc. (CRRI) is a professional services firm specializing in human research protections. CRRI offers independent IRB services to clients conducting human subject’s research. CRRI’s leadership has long supported the concept of Certification of IRB Professionals (CIP®) and strives to have accessible and knowledgeable staff that consistently provides guidance and high quality service to clients. CRRI believes in investing in the staff that carry out the company’s Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) and mission. CRRI encourages both personal growth and professional development of staff through continuous training and education.

CIP is an excellent opportunity for IRB professionals to advance their knowledge in the ethical conduct of research. The CIP® Handbook provides an extensive outline of the type of information covered in the CIP exam. This outline can be used by IRB professionals to prepare and study for the CIPexam. The Council for Certification of IRB Professionals (CCIP) has also compiled a suggested list of references to help CIP candidates prepare for the exam.

In addition to the resources provided by PRIM&R, employees of CRRI are offered an opportunity to prepare for the exam in a classroom setting along with fellow colleagues who qualify to sit for the exam. CRRI offers to staff, which are eligible to sit for the CIP exam, a sixteen-week CIP training program developed and sponsored by the company.

In May of each year, CIP candidates at CRRI begin attending weekly, 1.5 hour long sessions that cover a broad range of regulatory and ethical topics and include those items listed in the CIP Handbook that will be covered on the exam. Classes are structured with slides, handouts, and a list of references for the candidates to use while studying for the CIP exam. The training sessions are informal and interactive to allow candidates and instructor(s) to keep the topics interesting. It is often very useful to use real life examples of research studies reviewed by CRRI’s IRB to reinforce a particular topic with the candidates. Such case studies also assist candidates in recalling and retaining information on exam day. Because classes are held weekly, candidates are motivated to begin their review of relevant materials starting week one, and to pace their review throughout the course.

Candidates follow a structured agenda of topics and each session is intentionally packed with information for the exam. Halfway through the sixteen-week program, the instructor(s) provide a general “Question and Answer” session with example, open ended questions to test the candidates’ overall knowledge on topics covered in previous sessions. An additional “Question and Answer” session is offered at the end of the training program, just prior to the first CIP exam date. In the interim periods, the candidates are encouraged to set-up study groups to help each other master topics and prepare for the exam. CRRI provides space and other resources as needed for the candidates.

In addition to providing the CIP training program, CRRI pays the exam fee for the candidates and also provides a bonus to staff for passing the CIP exam. CRRI also provides each candidate with a copy of the textbook titled “Protecting Study Volunteers in Research, A Manual for Investigative Sites” by Cynthia McGuire Dunn M.D. and Gary L. Chadwick, Pharm.D., MPH, CIP. CRRI allows candidates 1.5 hours each week to attend classes during work hours and also provides the time for qualified staff instructor(s) to prepare and lead the training sessions. 

This structured CIP training program inspires the candidates to begin studying well before the fall exam each year. Each week candidates are encouraged to come prepared for the topics to be covered. This preparation enhances the candidates’ comprehension of the course materials and enables them to ask questions during classes.

Over the years, CRRI has enjoyed a very favorable pass rate of 90% for staff candidates who attend the sixteen-week CIP training program and sit for the CIP exam. CRRI also enjoys the confidence that the training program provides the staff with a better understanding of their responsibilities, the regulations, the ethical principles, and the commitment to advance human subject protections.

CRRI continues to support PRIM&R’s CIP certification program through the investment in this training program as a way to ensure that CRRI’s staff appreciate the importance of ethically and legally sound human subjects research.