“The level of dedication and personal responsibility shown by FDA employees sets them far above any employees at any other agency I have ever worked for or dealt with.”
-- Monica Forrest, MPH, Program Training Officer, Office of Medical Devices and Radiological Health Operations
Q: How did your career begin at FDA?
Monica Forrest: I began working at FDA in December 2013. I was looking for a position more directly tied to Public Health. One day, I found a Quality System Specialist position with the FDA on USAJOBS. I enjoy quality work and process improvement projects, so I applied for the job. Three interviews and six months later, I started working for the FDA. I’ve remained in my same office, but my team has changed. My current team is nation-wide and we have team members in in all 4 time zones.
Prior to joining FDA, I served in the Air Force. I worked in other government jobs for 6 years before coming to the FDA, so it was not a direct transition from active duty to the FDA. However, I am still in the Air National Guard. I am able to use experiences and ideas from the Air Force in my FDA position, and vice versa. At FDA, I proposed and now manage a new supervisor mentoring program for our team, which was an idea I would not had if I hadn’t spent a 24-year career in the Air Force doing many intensive levels of supervisor training. That Air Force experience helped me see how valuable a new supervisor training/mentoring program could be for new FDA supervisors.
Q: What do you value most about working at FDA?
MF: Working with people who are passionate about public health. The people who work at the FDA are highly skilled, highly educated professionals who are willing to do what it takes to do their job because they are the ones protecting the public from harm through the regulation of the multiple products covered by the FDA. I have never found a better group of smart and passionate people who are solely focused on protecting people. The level of dedication and personal responsibility shown by FDA employees sets them far above any employees at any other agency I have ever worked for or dealt with.
Q: What are you most proud of in terms of your work at FDA?
MF: When I first joined FDA in 2013, I was surprised that people in my office still signed documents with pens and then scanned them to send them to the needed recipient. I researched the Code of Federal Regulations and wrote a justification for using electronic signatures within my first month on the job. It took a long time to get support for this significant of a change in a government agency, but I was determined to stop signing documents with pens. On February 2, 2015, the Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs signed an Electronic Signature Policy letter I had drafted, which allowed for all ORA employees to use electronic signatures as the equivalent of a handwritten signature. While this may seem like a minor detail, it saved hours of signing and scanning that were completely unnecessary. As a Quality System Specialist, I was proud to help the FDA make this transition.
Q: What advice would you give to an FDA job seeker?
MF: Join our team, but be patient. As someone told me once: the government is a big ship that makes wide turns. Everything is government takes time. I applied for my FDA job in June 2013. I didn’t get an interview request until 3 months later. It took 3 interviews and an additional 3 months before I started the job.
Q: When you're not at work, what is your favorite way to unwind?
MF: I love food! I am a passionate foodie who loves all types of food.