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Mary Hall – US Army
Quality Assurance Specialist, Clinical Center (CC)
How did you become an NIH employee?
The process was relatively easy – I saw an ad on USAJobs and applied. I was interviewed by three individuals. Shortly after the interview, I received a call and was offered the position. Later, I received paperwork making the official offer that told me where and when to report for work.
What inspired you to want to work at NIH?
After I got out of the Army, I worked for the DoD for six years. Then, I worked as a contractor on HIV/AIDS research with the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine for 10 years. I decided that it was time to go back into the government to secure my retirement. After my time in the research arena, I felt that NIH was a natural progression for my career. NIH offers many opportunities for research administration since research is all we do. I felt that NIH would offer me more opportunities to grow and develop in my career path.
Was it difficult transitioning from the military into NIH?
I went from the military to DoD to the private sector to NIH. Working for the government is not the same everywhere, so yes, each was different – presenting unique challenges and requiring adjustment periods. In my opinion, the military is more like a family, when you are new to a job, there are people who are supportive and help you adjust to the new job or duty station. At NIH, after the initial orientation, I was pretty much left on my own to adjust to the place. NIH is huge and just navigating the building was difficult in the beginning. I found that it took longer to make friends and establish relationships with people here than it did in the military, partly because in the military there is a feeling of family where everyone lives and works together, having to depend on each other.
What is your role at NIH?
My formal title is Quality Assurance Specialist (Protocols) for the Critical Care Medicine Department (CCMD) in the Clinical Center (CC) – I am a Protocol Manager. I help the researchers develop and write their protocols, informed consent documents, and write Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews. This includes keeping the protocols in a secure archive, auditing protocols for discrepancies and completeness, and evaluating protocols for compliance with regulations. I sit on many committees, including the Human Subjects Research Advisory Committee (HSRAC) and the IRB Professionals Administrative Committee (IPAC). This helps me maintain expertise on human subjects research regulations and activities at NIH. I monitor patient recruitment for the CCMD, participate in site reviews for FDA studies, and ensure that all documents are ready for inspections by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). I also advise the Department Head of the CCMD on regulatory procedures, especially as they affect the review and approval process.
How do you think other veterans can benefit from joining NIH?
I love working around so many smart individuals. I have learned a lot from the people that I have met and made some great friends. I learn something new almost every day and that is stimulating and exciting.