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As of October 1, 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) strongly encourages institutions funded by NIH awards to develop and use Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. IDPs provide a structured opportunity to plan career development activities as part of graduate and postdoctoral training. Annual grant reports to NIH must include “a description of whether the institution uses IDPs or not and how they are employed to help manage the training and career development of those individuals.” (NOT-OD-114-113)
Although IDPs were originally used for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the sciences, the IDP can be a valuable addition to any student/postdoc’s career planning. It facilitates a self-evaluation of skills and goals that should lead to a career plan and implementation of that plan. The IDP is an interactive process and, ideally, should include collaboration between the student/postdoc and their mentors or advisors. It can be used to positively affect the relationship with committee members or mentors so that there is a plan everyone can support that will lead to a better training experience.
An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a valuable planning document that gives students and scholars an opportunity to effectively set goals and identify career paths for the future. The planning process serves an ideal communication tool between student and mentor. IDPs help identify professional development needs and career objectives; this is of great benefit to students as it allows students to monitor their progress throughout their programs and/or appointments. Furthermore, it is important to note that Individual Development Plans are flexible. Graduate Education encourages students and scholars to revisit their plans as they see fit so that the best approach their career goals.
Create your own IDP at myidp.sciencecareers.org