Individual Development Plans

In compliance with NIH policy, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has implemented a requirement for all of our PhD students to complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP) and to update these annually. An IDP is a dynamic document that identifies career goals, sets a path and helps trainees manage their career development plans.

It is important to understand that it is the trainee's responsibility to initiate this process. Mentors can help identify what the trainee excels at, provide advice and guide the trainee with their own experiences. However, it is the responsibility of the trainee to decide a career path and create the specific plan to actively develop the necessary skills to achieve their goals.

Once the trainee develops the initial draft of the IDP, the trainee should meet with his/her mentor to discuss and gain feedback. This must be done at least one a year, however more frequent check-ins are encouraged.

The IDP is separate from the Annual Evaluations.

The deadline for students to submit a completed IDP form is Friday of Finals Week of Spring Quarter each year.

Download the Chemistry/Biochemistry IDP Form.

Information for Faculty

The primary responsibility for completing the IDP rests with the grad student or postdoc. However, faculty mentors will need to be actively involved in the IDP creation process.

  • Trainees will approach you for a special meeting about their IDPs to discuss skills they think they have and others that they want to develop, and action steps they plan to take to develop those skills and meet their ultimate career goals. As their mentor, you can help the trainee assess their skills and facilitate the creation of short-term and long-term goals to reach their career goal for their IDP. Please note that you may want to point out not only additional skills for the trainee to develop, but also skills they might not realize they already have. Although research strategy is a pivotal part of the scholars’ training, this IDP discussion should not focus only on research plans. It’s important that discussion of immediate research plans not take over the discussion of the trainee’s long-term career goals.
  • It’s also important that the IDP meeting be confidential and one-on-one. IDPs are personal documents and not meant to be shared with other lab/research group members.
  • Candid communication between mentor and trainee is crucial to the IDP process. Constructive feedback in an open environment leads to the most effective use of the IDP. This may be a good time to encourage trainees to consider a “Plan B” career path, if appropriate.
  • Be receptive to plans that include post-academic careers (careers outside of academia) as the NIH requirement for an IDP encourages PhDs in all facets of the workforce.
  • Note that trainees may have multiple mentors that they are meeting with to develop their IDPs.
  • We encourage you to take the completion of the IDP seriously, and to encourage your trainees to do so as well. Research has shown that having a structured training program (such as an IDP) leads to greater success in the training program1, such as more productivity (greater number of publications and grant proposals), fewer conflicts and better relationship with advisors.
  • Faculty interested in the IDP process may wish to join the UCSD IDP listserv here.
  • 1Davis G. (2005). “Doctors Without Orders.” American Scientist, 93 (3), supplement 1-13

Information for Graduate Students

It is the student's responsiblity to initiate this process.

  • NIH-funded and AHA-funded graduate students are required to have IDPs and update them annually. Please note that we predict that other agencies (e.g., American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure…) may also adopt this requirement as they have with past NIH requirements. The American Heart Association announced in May 2014 the requirement to include an IDP with a fellowship application. Thus, it is a good idea to have an IDP in place if you receive any extramural funding, particularly from a health-related organization.
  • The primary responsibility for completing the IDP is yours, not your mentor’s. You are responsible for initiating the thought process for creating an IDP, meeting with your mentor(s) to solicit their feedback, and following through on the action steps to reach your goals.
  • Take the completion of the IDP seriously. Research has shown that having a structured training program (such as an IDP) leads to greater success in a training program.1 Scholars who take the IDP seriously will benefit from it!
  • 1Davis G. (2005). “Doctors Without Orders.” American Scientist, 93 (3), supplement 1-13