Article: What I Bring to the Table: Confidence, Diligence, and Collaboration

Dorinda Williams, CIP, CPIA

Q: How did you become involved with HRPP/IRB and IACUC work?
A: I began working in a university sponsored projects office, on the pre-award side as a grant coordinator, and shared a workspace with another pre-award staffer who managed the IRB. I helped out when she was really busy, and I learned a lot about the IRB and how it operated. When that position became available, I applied for it, got the job, and started my compliance career.

After 17 years managing an IRB, IACUC administrative oversight was moved into my area and under my supervision. It was a significant opportunity for me and a really exciting one. I learned so much about the differences and similarities between the two committees. I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to help researchers navigate both animal and human research compliance environments.

Over the years I’ve found that my sponsored projects background has been instrumental in strengthening my understanding of the entire research endeavor—from finding funding and submitting a successful grant proposal through obtaining IRB approval, conducting the study, and ultimately having results published. Understanding what the researcher is experiencing has helped me provide better service and support.

Q: At what point did you realize that you wanted to advance in the field?
I knew as soon I started working in the sponsored projects office that it would be one of the most interesting things I could do at the university, and it certainly was! Being involved in the process of identifying and accomplishing cutting edge research is hugely satisfying, even if my efforts are just a small part of a larger process. I know my efforts are appreciated by our researchers.

Q: How did you learn of the certification programs?
I had already been attending PRIM&R’s annual AER Conferences for many years when the CIP was established. I took the certification exam when it was offered for the first time in San Diego. Later, after I had taken on IACUC oversight, I took the CPIA as soon as I was eligible.

Q: Did anyone in particular encourage you to become certified?
Encouragement mostly came through PRIM&R/ARENA. I let my supervisor, at the time, know about the program; and she was very supportive and encouraged me to try it.

Q: Why did you become certified?
It was all very new to me, and I didn’t know what to expect; but I understood that it could mean greater recognition of the role we played as compliance administrators. Certification provided a code of conduct and was a way to continue to grow both personally and professionally.

Q: What piece of advice do you wish to pass along to others who are contemplating certification?
Go for it! It’s scary and can seem overwhelming as you’re studying and preparing; but, really, you know more than you think you do. If you try and succeed, that’s great. If you’re not successful the first time, the experience of taking the exam will be priceless; and, hopefully, will lead to a successful second attempt.

Q: What do you think is the biggest benefit of becoming CIP and CPIA certified?
Becoming certified has provided me with immense personal satisfaction and that, in turn, has helped me be more confident, diligent, and collaborative. Knowing that what I bring to the table is meaningful and needed, and makes me feel more like a partner in each research project.