In the rapidly advancing sphere of biomedical research, there is a growing national need to prepare biomedical trainees for the broad range of careers that are critical to supporting a strong and effective biomedical enterprise. The proposed program will provide early professional development and guidance, as well as networking experiences for trainees, such that they may efficiently identify and succeed along directed career paths. A second goal is to endow trainees with an understanding and appreciation for the diverse functions served by the biomedical research (and research-related) workforce, and learn firsthand how these entities cooperate to advance human health. To this end, an innovative new professional development course will be implemented, where biomedical graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from across the university will develop a comprehensive understanding of the many important and interconnected roles involved in advancing and implementing biomedical discoveries, and develop communication skills that are critical for these interprofessional interactions. This course will include academic and non-academic guest lecturers, who will guide students through a diverse set of case studies and communication exercises to achieve this aim. During this course, trainees will be guided through construction of their own individual career development plans to identify where they may fit in this scheme, and will utilize resources from the course to outline the skills and experiences that will best allow them to achieve these goals. The course will also include a series of optional "mini-internships" at local organizations to expose students to a variety of professional environments. Independently of the course, a mentorship program will be offered, where trainees participate in regular advisory meetings with mentors from academic and non-academic partner institutions and businesses (selected based on trainee career interests), and which culminates in an annual career development and networking event. Mentors will provide additional guidance for shaping the trainees'individual development plans, and help identify mechanisms for further growth, including use of existing courses, certificates, and degree programs at VT that would provide complementary experiences, such as in policy, public health, business, management, or writing. Overall, the program will serve as a first-step in trainee career development, offering essential professional skills, glimpses into the roles of professionals from a multiple job sectors, and a forum for carving out a training plan that may ultimately include pursuit of more time intensive and specialized training activities. The program is designed to be both broadly appealing to biomedical trainees, regardless of ultimate career path, and one that could be implemented across a range of training institutions.
In the rapidly changing landscape of biomedicine, a diverse and interdependent array of research-related roles has emerged as vital for supporting the biomedical enterprise and advancing human health. This project addresses an urgent need to creatively expand the training experience of the nation's graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to more effectively prepare them for pursuing these roles. A series of training and career development activities is proposed, which will provide a foundation for understanding these positions, cultivate professional skills, and offer individualized career mentoring.