In the past two decades, the reduced number of clinical scientists who pursue mental health research coupled with a high rate of attrition among those who enter the field are threatening our nation's ability to leverage advances in basic biomedical and behavioral sciences into improvements in public health.
The specific aim of the Research Career Development Institute for Psychiatry (CDI), to be accomplished through this R25 application, is to provide the necessary skill set and support to a nationally selected broad-based group of promising young psychiatrists and PhD researchers in order to launch and maintain successful research careers in academic psychiatry. The program is geared toward individuals at the critical transition point between the completion of research training and their initial faculty appointment or very early in the initial appointment. The proposed program will help fill this training gap by providing the necessary skill set and guidance in a multi-faceted longitudinal training experience, including a comprehensive program of career and skills self-assessment, individualized career goal setting, a four-day workshop, structured long- distance career mentoring and goal tracking, webinars (online meetings) and tutorials, and a multi-tiered program evaluation. Targeted career skills identified as critical to beginning and maintaining a successful career in research psychiatry will include: writing (grants, particularly a K-series award, and manuscripts), negotiating (for a faculty position, salary, benefits, space, facilities, research time, etc.), time management (particularly for writing) and juggling multiple demanding responsibilities, responsible conduct of research, networking, project management (such as hiring staff, supervision, budgeting, lab management), and mentoring. Career development activities will occur in four phases over a 24-month period for each annual class of 20 participants: online baseline career and skills self-assessment, didactic learning and preparations for four-day in-person workshop and goal setting, long-distance structured mentoring and online continued learning, and post-program career progress and process evaluation. The CDI program website, www.CDIPsych.org, will be the portal through which career goals and progress are measured and monitored, coaching and mentoring sessions take place, and virtual meetings are held throughout the 24- month training period. A Peer Advisory Council consisting of past CDI participants provides two-fold added value: (1) attendees get to hear from colleagues just a few years ahead of them in their research career trajectory and may identify more with them than with established investigators, and (2) it gives the PAC member an early career opportunity to provide mentoring to others and to participate at a faculty/teacher level. The proposed longitudinal program of education, training, mentoring, peer support, and communications for individuals making the transition to academic research should potentially help increase the number of scientists committed to research careers in mental health.
The number of physician scientists experienced in mental health research in this country is dwindling yet the number of people experiencing mental illness is on the rise. The Career Development Institute for Psychiatry proposes a longitudinal program of education, training, mentoring, peer support, and communications to support these individuals in carrying out their research career paths and to potentially increase the number of scientists committed to research careers in mental health.