Individual Development Plans

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IDP for Postdoctoral Fellows

To assist postdoctoral researchers to achieve their career goals, the Office for Postdoctoral Studies at the School of Graduate Studies in the Heath Sciences mandates that all postdoctoral researchers develop and use an Individual Development Plan.

What is an Individual Development Plan?

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is an extremely useful tool designed to assist the postdoc with:

  • Identifying his/her professional goals and objectives;
  • Assessing the postdoc's skill set relative to his/her career goals; and
  • Developing a plan to acquire the skills and competencies needed to achieve short- and long-term career objectives.

In addition to serving as a planning tool, an IDP also serves as a communication tool, allowing the postdoc to communicate research and career goals to mentors, including research advisors.

How does this relate to the core competencies?

There is broad agreement that core competencies provide an excellent way to evaluate career/professional development. Core competencies are primarily blends of skills and experiences that future employers and/or educational institutions will be seeking. Specifically, postdoctoral training should aim to build competence in:

  • Discipline-specific conceptual knowledge
  • Research skill development
  • Communication skills
  • Professionalism
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Responsible conduct of research

What resources can I use?

An excellent free online tool for developing an IDP is myIDP. This tool is written specifically for scientists to help them understand their skills, values and interests and how those align with potential career choices.

Another model IDP, developed by FASEB, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, can be found online.

Training in use of IDP

The Office for Postdoctoral Studies in the School of Graduate Studies in the Heath Sciences will organize a lecture annually for all new postdoctoral fellows to educate them on the use of IDP and the myIDP website.