Office of Postdoctoral Studies

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  • Individual Development Plan 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 1) identifying his/her professional goals and objectives; 2) assessing the postdoc's skill set relative to his/her career goals; and 3) 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.

    What is the IDP process?

    The development, implementation, and revision of IDPs require a series of steps to be conducted by postdocs and their mentors.  This is an interactive process and requires full participation of both postdocs and mentors.

    1) Postdoc Self Assessment; 2) Postdoc: Write and share IDP - Mentor: Review IP and help revise; 3) Postdoc: Implement plan and revise as needed - Mentor: establish regular progress review; 4) Postdoc: Survey opportunities with mentor - Mentor: Discuss opportunities.

    How does this relate to 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.

    The School of Graduate Studies in the Heath Sciences has organized a seminar and workshop on November 14th, 2013 with Dr. Phil Clifford, co-developer of myIDP. Attendance to the workshop is strongly encouraged for all postdoctoral researchers. His lecture will be available (podcast) for additional viewing after Nov. 14, 2013.

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