Written by Kristen Steiner
On Feb. 27, the University of Utah’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science collaborated with the National Research Mentoring Network to hold a one-day Research Mentor Training course. The course was held at the Williams Building where more than two dozen University of Utah employees from various departments were able to learn and participate in activities and discussions to help improve their mentorship skills and abilities.
“Mentoring is important to faculty success,” said Maureen Murtaugh, PhD, RDN, a Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah. “I view it as something I can always do better, so I try to take advantage of opportunities to focus on mentoring.”
Dr. Christine Sorkness, RPh, PharmD, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along with Dr. Mitchell Feldman, MD, MPhil, FACP, from the University of California, San Francisco, facilitated the training to help attendees develop and improve their mentorship skills.
Aside from the facilitators, participants included employees from the University of Utah’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, and more. Attendees also ranged from veteran mentors to those just starting mentoring programs and trainings.
“It was my first time participating in a training for mentoring and it was a great experience,” said Mia Hashibe, PhD, an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. “Mentoring students and junior faculty is something that faculty do every day, but we usually don’t stop to think about whether we are mentoring in the best way possible. The training course was a great time to reflect on improving mentoring.”
The day began with a “Culture Box” activity where participants gathered with those at their tables and shared three items about themselves. The activity allowed attendees to break down barriers and feel more comfortable with those who they would be working closely with throughout the course of the day.
The remainder of the day included topics and discussions based around maintaining effective communication, aligning expectations, fostering independence, promoting professional development, and addressing equity, inclusion, and diversity as pertaining to mentoring.
“I was curious as to how the facilitators would cover the diversity component,” said Megan Shannahan, an undergraduate research advisor in the Office of Undergraduate Research. “After seeing how the NRMN training facilitators discussed diversity as a standalone topic, and weaved it through the rest of the topics, I think it might be best to incorporate it that in a way to really highlight how important it is to constantly be aware of how our own experiences affect our interactions with others.”
The training also included case studies, discussions, worksheets, and activities to allow and help attendees develop mentoring skills that can be applied in a variety of situations.
“The skills that I learned and the practices that I refined will be shared at the University of Utah with the research administration and research development professionals that I mentor,” said Jan Abramson, a member of the Board of Directors at the National Organization of Research Development Professionals.
As most in an academic capacity can attest, there is no such thing as too much learning. The one-day mentor training allowed for colleagues and associates to learn and grow together in a shared area of interest that will be beneficial throughout various stages in their careers.
“It was great to be in a room of like-minded professionals, and have the opportunity to begin to develop a shared and common foundation for mentoring practices,” Abramson said.
For more information regarding mentoring training and development, visit https://nrmnet.net/