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Building an Individual Professional Development Plan (IDP)

The Early Career Development Course is a perennial conference favorite developed by the ACRM Early Career Networking Group. It provides an ideal venue for connecting with seasoned professionals who can answer your questions and guide you on your path to success.

With particular focus on career development issues relevant to early career researchers, this full-day pre-conference course comprises didactic presentation, panel discussion, one-on-one networking, and small group discussions.


7:00 – 8:00 AM: Continental Breakfast
8:00 – 12:00 PM: Keynote & morning program
12:00 – 1:00 PM: Mentoring Luncheon
1:00 – 6:00 PM: Breakouts & Panel Discussion on successfully obtaining Early Career funding
6:00 – 7:45 PM: Early Career Reception

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Kenneth Ottenbacher

Keynote Speaker, Dr. Kenneth Ottenbacher

KEYNOTE SPEAKER, Dr. Kenneth Ottenbacher

Keynote speaker, Kenneth Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR, FACRM will kick-off the course with Making Science: Characteristics of Successful Scholars.

The goal of the presentation is to provide information to early career scholars that will be helpful to them in “making science” and developing their academic and professional careers. The lecture will include a combination of personal experiences and anecdotes along with information from the literature on the following topics:

  • Importance of knowledge in a content area
  • Attaining methodological skills
  • Understanding institutional values
  • The role of mentorship and being socialized into an academic role
  • Maintaining productive collaborations
  • Establishing priorities
  • Functioning in a supportive environment

Successful scholars all become successful in different ways. The challenge is to find the path that fits your passion and personality on the journey to scholarly success.

Dr. Ottenbacher holds the Russell Shearn Moody Distinguished Chair in Neurological Rehabilitation at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), where he is professor and director of the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences; director of the Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition; and associate director for the Sealy Center on Aging.

His research interests include rehabilitation outcomes with a focus on functional assessment, disability and frailty in older adults using large datasets. Dr. Ottenbacher has published more than 300 articles and his research has been supported by continuous federal funding since 1984. He is currently the principal investigator or project leader on seven grants totaling more than $15 million dollars.



Early Career Networking Group Past Chair, Dawn Neumann, PhD and Amy Herrold, PhD will lead a lively series of team presentations called Grab the Bull by the Horns and Steer Your Career in the Direction You Want.

Enjoy two productive small group breakout sessions designed to help participants discuss and explore strategies to address common challenges, such as:

  • Balancing values, passions, and vision
  • Aligning professional goals with the goals of your institution
  • Time management
  • Tackling last year’s challenges
  • Setting personal goals and work/life integration

No career development course for researchers would be complete without discussion of funding opportunities. This year, get the news you can use from a panel of funders and then hear from a second panel of successfully funded early career research fellows.



The mentoring lunch will provide attendees with an informal small group discussion with leaders in the field of rehabilitation medicine. Each mentor will focus on one area of career development important to early career investigators. Attendees can sign up to sit at the table with the discussion topic of greatest interest. Topics of discussion will include:

  • Developing a Mentoring Team
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Gender Issues in Rehab Science
    and MORE!

Sign up early to ensure your spot in an intimate and informal discussion with a leader in the field!



A panel discussion from four early career research professionals who will share their experiences with successfully obtaining research funding will be led by Brad Kurowski, MD (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital), Beth Smith, PT, DPT, PhD (University of Southern California), Consuelo Kreider, PhD, OTR/L (University of Florida), and Natalie Leland, PhD, OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA (University of Southern California).

Their funding experience includes postdoctoral fellowships, career development awards, and foundation/federal grants. They will share details of their experiences, which includes topics such as finding your research niche, deciding on a research topic, choosing mentors, selecting the appropriate funding agency, and the submission process.



All Student and Early Career attendees are invited to attend the Early Career cocktail reception following the Early Career Development Course on Tuesday evening. It’s a great opportunity to network with funders, course presenters, ACRM leaders and colleagues in a casual setting.

ACRM President, Dr. Sue Ann Sisto and members of the board will be there to welcome and connect you with the people and opportunities at ACRM. Leaders of the interdisciplinary special interest groups (ISIGs) and networking groups will also be there to briefly orient you to their task forces and ways to participate.