By Christine Pfund, Nancy Schwartz and Richard McGee
In 2015, the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School hosted a national meeting entitled “Future of Bioscience Graduate and Postdoctoral Training”. This meeting brought together “a broad group of stakeholders, including representatives of academic institutions, funding agencies, trainees, scientific societies and other interested individuals, to discuss possible solutions to the career imbalances that have developed in the biomedical workforce” (www.rackham.umich.edu/fobgapt).
In June 2017, the University of Colorado Denver-Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School co-hosted a second FOBGAPT meeting. The goal of this follow-up meeting was to share promising practices among the participants and develop a set of consensus recommendations for the biomedical science community, which would be disseminated through the conference website (https://gs.ucdenver.edu/fobgapt2/main.php) and a published white paper.
The conference kicked-off with three thought-provoking presentations:
- “Catalyzing the Modernization of Biomedical Graduate Education” by Dr. Alison Gamie, Director of the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences
- “Supporting Career Diversity and Professional Development in Doctoral Education” by Dr. Julia Kent, Assistant Vice President at the Council of Graduate Schools
- “Economics and the Postdoctoral Position” by Dr. Paula Stephan, Professor of Economics at Georgia State University
All presentations are available on FOBGAPT2 website noted above.
Several NRMN leaders participated as workshop leaders at the conference. Rick McGee, Northwestern University and Chris Pfund, University of Wisconsin-Madison, in partnership with Jonathan Wiest from the National Cancer Institute, led sessions on “Increasing Engagement and Skills of Faculty in Mentorship”. This session was offered 6 times with each session moving towards consensus on main themes and concrete steps for achieving engagement and skills. The four themes chosen by participants for in-depth exploration were: 1) mentor training; 2) mentee training; 3) marketing the value of training; and 4) multiple mentors and mentoring networks. Key elements to focus on within each theme were identified to be included in the meeting report. Additionally, several overarching themes emerged including the need for more emphasis on self-actualization of mentees, and shared responsibility in mentoring relationships as denoted by the key themes of mentor AND mentee training.
Nancy Schwartz, University of Chicago, co-led a session with Jabbar Bennett (Northwestern), Nancy Street (UT Southwestern) and Christine Chow (Wayne State) on ways to better increase the diversity of scientists in senior and leadership roles. Review of the academic scientific workforce revealed crucial transition points along the pathway toward senior and leadership positions. The postdoc appointment was identified as a key stage at which experiences, resources and mentors could impact the trajectory of under-represented (women and minorities) scientists in beneficial or adverse ways. As well, many challenges in hiring, reviewing, recognizing and promoting underrepresented scientists continue as they develop their careers, even toward very senior positions. Numerous recommendations emerged through discussion and were prioritized by consensus.
by Christine Sorkness and Cathy Thornburg
The Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) Meeting took place on April 18-21, 2017 at Washington Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. The mission of this annual meeting is to bring together all of the disciplines involved in clinical and translational research, share successes, and network with colleagues. NRMN had a strong presence at this meeting with two Career Development Workshops facilitated by NRMN Master Facilitators.
How to be an Effective Mentor
Drs. Emma Meagher and Christine Sorkness, NRMN Master Facilitators, facilitated a 1-hour mentee training workshop titled “How to be an Effective Mentee” on Friday, April 21. This session built on the extensive experience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison designing and implementing novel approaches to building skills of mentors and mentees. In particular, it demonstrated a portion of the curriculum designed for K Scholars. The workshop highlighted the importance of and approaches to effective communications and aligning expectations for mentoring relationships. The activities in the workshop emphasized how trainees can both take responsibility for and become skilled at guiding these relationships rather than waiting for mentors to take the lead.
Novel Approaches to Successful Grant Writing
Dr. Rick McGee, NRMN Master Facilitator, facilitated a 1-hour grant writing workshop titled “Novel Approaches to Successful Grant Writing” on Thursday, April 20. This workshop session introduced a novel way for teaching and learning the skill of writing NIH-style research proposals. It is based on a method developed and used over the past decade, focusing on learning and writing to rhetorical patterns. It also demonstrated the use of oral feedback processes with mentors and peers to replicate how reviewers read and evaluate proposals. Both methods have proved to be very effective by Dr. McGee through this work with the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN).
To learn more about the ACTS Meeting or to see resources, please visit the website here.
In April 2017, NRMN is proud to announce the release of a new training curriculum:
CULTURALLY AWARE MENTORSHIP (CAM) is an innovative initiative launched through NRMN to enhance mentors’ and trainees’ ability to effectively address cultural diversity matters in their research mentoring relationships. The CAM initiative and approach are supported by evidence which indicates that broader participation of culturally diverse groups enhances the quality of research and practice in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical sciences.
There are three components of the Culturally Aware Mentorship curriculum:
CAM Online Module: A ~1hr, self-directed session that reviews key cultural diversity terms and research on the relevance of race, ethnicity, and other dimensions of cultural diversity to research training in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical sciences.
To obtain access to the module, email email@example.com.
CAM Training: (Click here for Requests):
- What is it? A 6hr intensive training designed for mentors who have already completed some form of mentor training. In this module, participants look inward and examine their own racial and ethnic identity, and use insights from these reflections to identify their personal assumptions, biases, and privileges that may operate in their research mentoring relationships. Through a combination of activities including group discussion, case studies, and role play, mentors learn and practice culturally aware mentoring skills in order to increase their capacity to respond better to cultural diversity matters in their research mentoring relationships.
- Who Can Participate? CAM training sessions have been facilitated with mentors across career stages (faculty, staff, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students) and in a variety of training settings including academic science departments and medical schools as well as training programs sponsored by federal and private foundations. Curricula for trainees are currently under development.
Culturally Aware Mentoring Skills (CAMS) Survey: a 21-item skills self-assessment relating to culturally aware mentoring.
Click here to obtain more information and inquire about using this survey.
Meet the CAM Team
The CAM subgroup is led by Angela Byars-Winston (University of Wisconsin-Madison, center) and includes Amanda Butz (University of Wisconsin-Madison, far right), Rick McGee (Northwestern University, second from right), Sandra Quinn (University of Maryland College Park, third from left), Carrie Saetermoe (University of California Northridge, left), Stephen Thomas (University of Maryland College Park, fourth from right), Emily Utzerath (University of Wisconsin-Madison, third from right), and Veronica Womack (Northwestern University, second from left).
Publications/Social Media about CAM:
- Read the CAM Newsletter
- Read the blog post: “Want to help diversity the biomedical workforce? Start with mentoring” (The Sullivan Alliance)
- Watch two videos on Mentor Training to Improve Diversity in Science (iBiology)
- Join the conversation on Twitter: #wokementoring
Want more information? The NRMN CAM team is holding an informational webinar on Thursday, April 27th:
Register for CAM: “Digging Deeper, Doing Better: Research Science and the Messiness of Engaging Cultural Diversity” on Apr 27, 2017 2:00 PM CDT at:
Scientists are cultural beings but are often reticent to acknowledge cultural diversity matters amongst themselves. Engaging with such matters is sometimes viewed as irrelevant to or detracting from “doing” science, and just plain messy. This webinar will review evidence documenting how race and privilege shape individuals and institutions, including career trajectories and the research training enterprise; review key terms useful in understanding experiences of scientists from historically underrepresented groups; and highlight emerging efforts within NRMN to support scientists “digging deeper and doing better” with engaging cultural diversity matters.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Have Questions? Contact: MTC@NRMNet.net
Join NRMN at Translational Science 2017 on April 20th from 3:30-4:30pm EDT for “Novel Approaches to Grant Writing,” presented by NRMN’s Dr. Rick McGee.