How to Make the Most of Your Professional Development Funds

How to Make the Most of Your Professional Development Funds

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A guest post from Christina Stanger, MA, CRA, Director of the MHRI Office of Contract and Grant Management

Do you present at conferences in your specialty area? How about your staff?

Presenting at professional conferences is a great way, but certainly not the only way, to spend and stretch your professional development funds. Each year within the Office of Contracts and Grants Management (OCGM), we develop a staff-wide professional development plan, which typically overlaps our engagement plan. As you know, regulations and laws change every year in our world. Our associates love to gather knowledge and industry trends by attending conferences to stay engaged in the work they do and the greater professional community of research administration.

By supporting the OCGM staff in presenting at professional conferences we gain four valuable things:

  1. The experience develops more confidence and professional growth in the staff member.
  2. They gain more knowledge for the work they do every day by attending other sessions at the conference and by researching their own topics (if needed)
  3. They are usually able to stretch their professional development funds with conferences that waive registration for speakers
  4. The MedStar Health Research Institute is represented in research professional communities.

This fiscal year, we’ve had several MHRI associates, not just from OCGM, present at MAGI WEST and NCURA FRA/PRA, with several more presenting locally at MAGI EAST in May 2018. We’ve presented individually, with teams, with industry and university partners, and with other MHRI colleagues. Check out our pictures from recent conferences. Other associates have presented at OnSemble (hosted by Forte, the vendor from which we purchased OnCore, our CTMS), with about a third of the entire conference in attendance!

Professional development funds are MHRI’s investment in YOU! So, think about how you can spend these funds, and how you can help your staff and co-workers use this benefit to further their development as well. As a manager, do you talk to your staff and develop annual plans on how they’ll spend their professional development funds? If you are not, do you connect with your manager about the best ways to use your professional development funds? Remember these funds are separate from your educational assistance funds, and many people fail to use their funds. Can you believe it? They actually go unspent!

If you are a manager who has successfully implemented a staff-wide plan for professional development, we’d like to hear about your team’s experiences. If you are an associate who has used your professional development funds in a way that was meaningful to you, we’d like to hear from you too! Please contact Haley Call, HR Generalist, at

Make sure you submit your Application for Professional Development once you identify an event you’d like to attend. Take charge of your professional development and support your own continuous learning today!

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