Biomedical research is at an inflection point. In recent decades, conceptual and technological advances have vastly increased the speed and precision of data acquisition and the acuity of description of biological processes, including those involved in disease. Modern biomedicine is becoming a transdisciplinary continuum that spans fundamental discovery, clinical research and population studies. The daunting challenges that face us in health and healthcare will be addressed both within and without academia. However, conventional graduate and postdoctoral training in the biomedical sciences does not adequately address the career development needs of trainees, even though institutions bear a fundamental responsibility to train their students and postdocs for future success. A lack of career related knowledge leaves trainees unprepared for the wide variety of career paths outside of academic research. Interventions targeting this deficiency must address known motivational challenges that individuals engaged in career exploration and transition face, as well as institutional and cultural barriers that impede faculty in supporting their mentees through these processes. We propose to develop and test a comprehensive career development intervention for doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars and faculty mentors (UCSF MIND program) intentionally targeting specific knowledge gaps and motivational gaps that impede the career decision making process. The Motivating INformed Decisions (MIND) program will fill knowledge gaps for trainees with catalytic coursework, meaningful career exposure experiences, and a nationally disseminated repository of career field information (MINDbank). The program will also address motivational gaps for trainees with peer mentoring groups. Finally, it will augment the knowledge and motivation of faculty to mentor trainees through career exploration by first assessing faculty's needs and then designing and implementing appropriate resources and rewards. To meet these specific aims our interdisciplinary team of research scientists and career counseling professionals will leverage the many partners external and internal to UCSF. Our long term goal is to change the culture on our campus so that trainees can more openly and effectively pursue the career trajectories of their choice.
The proposed program (UCSF MIND) is relevant to and will benefit public heath because it is designed to support the career development of graduate students and postdocs who will be employed in the biomedical workforce in diverse career fields that target improvements in human health. Trainees who participate in the program, additional trainees whose faculty mentors participate, and non-UCSF trainees who use the proposed publically-accessible repository of career information will be better prepared to secure and be successful in such careers.