The Institution of Health BEST Consortium in conjunction with the Great Group Professional Development Meeting hosted a BEST practices workshop. Common fund and Burroughs Wellcome Fund were the main sponsors.
The primary purpose of the workshop was to share best practices and lessons from the program with the biomedical research training community.Some of the targeted topics included:
It also aimed at offering doctoral and post-doctoral scholars practical guidance on motivating, creating, implementing and evaluating career and professional development opportunities. Some of the invitees included institutional and government policymakers, as well as employers who had an interest in supporting professional development and careers for biomedical training. The workshop aimed at providing a platorm for open dialogue around the creation of sustainable Career Development opportunities, while taking into consideration the limitations such as faculty culture as well as personnel and financial resources.
Professional and Career Development programs for biomedical Research doctoral and post-doctoral students previously focused on training the students for academic research positions. Yet, a paltry 25% of them end up in tenure-track faculty positions according to reports from academicians, the Science Foundation. 25% stay in administrative or tenure-track research positions. The remaining 50% are in Industries outside of academia such as pharmaceutical science, biotechnology, science policy or communication and regulatory affairs. Trainees do not get professional development opportunities to help them acquire transferable skills that employers desire in the various sectors.
Due to the flux in career opportunities, the health institution called upon institutions to develop proposals aimed at exposing doctoral and post-doctoral scholars to professional development and biomedical research career opportunities. The proposals or research experiments needed to have strong evaluation plans.
The common fund established the Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) initiative and awarded 17 institutions a five-year one-time Grant. To facilitate communication and generate collaborative publications on the outcomes, they set up a national Consortium comprising of all the institutions.
To date, the Consortium has been actively addressing issues and identified challenges as they work towards developing career and professional development opportunities. The member institutions have unique programs, although they share certain commonalities in some aspects.
Despite the creativity and effort that goes towards strengthening biomedical research training by BEST, we still support ‘traditional’ academic biomedical research careers.
The planning committee had representatives from BWF, BEST and GREAT.
Topics of discussion included:
Every BEST institution had the capacity and expertise to handle any of the topics. To this end, the topic allocation was random.
The panelists had sufficient time and opportunity to present in different areas. All the discussions focused on the BEST activities and outcomes around challenges, opportunities, sustainability efforts, and costs. They also reported an area such as contributions, output, cross-institutional interactions, and minimal cost solutions.
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