“When things go astray, don’t find fault, find SOLUTIONS!”
The above quote is my favorite message from the 2015 IACUC keynote of B. Taylor Bennett, Senior Scientist with the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR). Bennett shared some progressive strategies for reducing regulatory burden a.k.a. increased paperwork “creep” at a recent NWABR program. He also offered a general assurance that when IACUCs are in doubt, communication and teamwork outside silos is always the best strategy. That’s great news for quality animal care.
But in practice it’s tougher.
I’m on an IACUC. Picturing our researchers as our customers, remembering that we have the mutual goal of humane care, remembering that as support services we exist because the researchers are doing research, and that regulations are used to promote humane animal care sounds simple, but working as partners takes awareness and practice. The IACUC is one entity that must assure compliance with regulations – this is still important – but I was reminded that it is also our role to facilitate research and use policies and procedures that optimize humane animal care and use without increasing the paperwork wherever possible.
Paying attention to is key.
You’ll know the familiar feeling. Regulatory creep feels like the distressing sensation of insects crawling on the flesh. The main cause of creep is risk aversion – institutions so afraid of non-compliance that they create more policies that don’t accomplish much beyond frustrating researchers. Say NO to the creep! Taylor suggested that we decide on how to implement regulations focusing on involving investigators in the development of new polices and SOPs and protocol forms (that can become so complex that it’s even hard for the investigator to know what is approved)!
Bennett was an engaging speaker, an all-day conference contributor, and throughout wore a wonderfully colorful tie, indicative of his vibrant personality. Although we all know that red tape problems can’t all be solved in one day, we continue to make headway, and can all relate to his dual message of communication and personal accountability at our institutions.
Of note for the strictly administrative among us, certain types of significant changes are still required to go through the “classic” IACUC review and approval methods (i.e., FCR or DMR). A subset of specific significant changes may now be administratively “handled” (not approved) through VVC. In addition, the description of the changes that qualify for administrative review has been expanded to include increases in animal numbers when the institution’s IACUC has supporting policies in place
Kari Koszdin is a veterinarian and participating member of everyday professionals blogging for NWABR. We appreciate her insight and contribution, and grateful for her sharing a session from our recent NWABR 2015 Regional IACUC Conference. B. Taylor Bennett is an award-winning author and speaker.