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NIMH IDP Guidance

Individual Development Plan Policy and SOP
Individual development plans (IDPs) are a valuable tool to help trainees explore career opportunities and even more importantly to set career goals. Creating an IDP will help trainees to identify the skills and abilities necessary for career success and should facilitate communication regarding career and professional development between trainees and their mentors. As per NIH Policy Guidance issued 2/24/09 by the Office of Intramural Research (OIR) in section U, Training and Tuition, “IDPs are required for all trainees”. Consistent with this requirement, the NIMH IRP Office of Fellowship Training will now require that each Postdoctoral IRTA, Visiting Fellow and Research Fellow submit a written IDP with renewal packages to move into the third year of training and beyond. (Clinical Fellows and PGY4 Residents submit and discuss IDPs with the PGY4 Residency and Clinical Program Director, Joyce Chung.)

The IDP document should include the following CORE elements:
Research Goals: To include:

  • past achievements and future goals (manuscripts written/planned, grants written/planned, etc.)
  • description of past and future training activities to achieve goals (presentations at meetings, workshops, etc.)
  • Report progress on Research Goals set in the previous year

Career Goals: Description of:

  • career plans, career path and discussion of whether these plans have changed since starting your training (academia, industry, science policy, science writing, etc.)
  • description of past and future career and professional development training attended or to attend to build career competencies (grant proposal writing workshop, manuscript writing workshop, career pathways seminars, etc.)
  • Report progress on Career Goals set in the previous year

Mentorship: Identify:

  • trainee’s mentor(s) (PI, Training Director, other mentors)
  • trainee’s plans to mentor other trainees (e.g. summer intern)


  • document expectations for the coming year for trainee and mentor for Research Goals
  • document expectations for the coming year for trainee and mentor for Career Goals
  • include a timeline of action items

Signatures: Both Trainee and Mentor sign and date IDP prior to submission