The global economic climate has reshaped the job markets for which we are preparing biomedical doctoral students. At the same time, most research programs have traditionally focused on preparing students for postdoctoral training and careers in academia. Wayne State University (WSU) doctoral graduate placement data parallels the national trend, which shows that less than 25% of PhD students ultimately obtain tenure-track faculty positions. Our recognition of this gap has motivated us to design an innovative initiative whose specific purpose is to transform our biomedical doctoral training such that both faculty and students recognize, appreciate and celebrate diverse career opportunities. The long-range goal is to institutionalize these practices so that our students become the next generation of innovators and leaders in science. The intended outcome of our program is to place students in diverse careers in addition to academia, and to educate the biomedical community that such diverse careers are viewed as desirable and successful outcomes of doctoral research training. WSU's Graduate School is leading this initiative to transform biomedical graduate education centrally across academic units and disciplines. Trainees will be prepared for a dynamic and evolving job market to meet the needs of the 21st century economy. These skill sets will be developed in partnership with local employers to provide mentored internships to ensure alignment between the expectations of diverse employers and the skills of our trainees, in keeping with WSU's urban location and urban mission. In addition to specific partnerships, students will have the opportunity for cross-training to develop a variety of skills allowing them to work effectively in multidisciplinary teams and to solve complex problems in an institution with urban motifs and research emphasis.
The goal of WSU's BEST program is to provide our biomedical doctoral students the opportunity to explore diverse career pathways. The trainees of this program will serve as the nation's innovators in developing research-related opportunities that will complement careers in academia with relevance to an urban setting to meet the evolving needs of the 21st century economy.