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2015 Supplement 3 of 5

Professional Skill Development for Mentors

Principal Investigator: Doris Rubio, PhD
University of Pittsburgh

There is a need for the biomedical research workforce to more closely resemble the diversity of the nation. In order to diversify the biomedical workforce, we need multifaceted training. It is not sufficient to simply teach the fundamental skills necessary to conduct research. Instead, investigators need to be trained to apply this knowledge so they can successfully compete for research grants. Typically, mentors help junior investigators in areas such as scientific writing, leading teams, and identifying important research questions worthy of study. Implementing these skills is often learned through experience or mentors, and when it does not happen effectively, it can lead to mentee burnout and dropping out of the biomedical workforce. Mentors rarely help their mentees recognize ways to drive their careers to remain engaged in research. Building on our work (i.e., successful training programs, online training, and experience with competency based education), we aim to offer professional skill development and provide training on how to be a career coach. Specifically, we aim to:

  1. Develop innovative online professional skill development modules for current and future

NRMN mentors which are focused on management and leadership skills. These modules will contain case-based exercises, self-assessments, and projects. We will also have available reading materials and other supplemental work to augment the modules. We plan on using Moodle, an open-source learning management system, which will enable us to create a consistent look and feel across the modules.

  1. Offer training on career coaching skills for current and future NRMN mentors. 

We propose to have a two-day training session in which participants will be trained by certified career coaches to gain the skills and tools to become career coaches. Mentors view themselves as content advisors, and they focus on the next step in the research project rather than the research career. Most mentors are not trained career coaches; therefore, they do not have skills to provide career guidance to trainees. We invited trained career coaches, Drs. Steven Wendell and Michael Forlenza, to train mentors to provide career coaching to their mentees, which will help the mentee establish a successful biomedical research career trajectory. Dr. Wendell will create a blog for the coaches so issues can be addressed when the mentors begin coaching their mentees.

Our proposal fits within the NRMN scope of work and mission by providing professional development opportunities for mentors (Mentorship and Networking Core), with online modules as well as in-person career coach training (Mentor Training Core). Our training is built on best practices that will lead to more effective mentoring relationships (Mentor Training Core).

We plan to conduct both formative and summative evaluations. The formative evaluation will assess all aspects of the program, including the training component and career coaching. Our summative evaluation will include reports of the number of mentors enrolled in the modules and career coach training, the discipline of mentor, the number of institutions that participated, and training evaluation of the modules and career coaching workshop. We will also evaluate the career coaching by surveying the mentees.

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