A national mentoring network is proposed to accelerate the generation of fundamental, translational, and patient-oriented research in deafness and other communication disorders by enhancing the training, retention, and funding success of clinician-scientists in communication sciences and disorders. A three tiered mentoring network will be established to provide customized mentoring and educational support to approximately 30 promising clinician-scientists (prot?g?s) annually across three early career stages. In addition to providing enduring and comprehensive mentoring support, the proposed Mentoring Network will include the development of a multimedia resource library, the Clinical Research Education Library, to provide centralized access and broad dissemination of presentations, webinars, podcasts, and other multimedia resources that largely will be created by the distinguished researchers participating in the Network. A customized online community platform will be established to support collaborative learning and social networking. Network participants will be able to communicate and share multimedia resources (e.g., streaming video, images, audio files). Prot?g?s and mentors will convene at the beginning of their yearlong participation for a 3-day conference, the Clinical Research Conference, to become familiar with the tools, expectations, requirements, and goals of the Network, and to engage in an educational program that will include customized tracks for each of the three tiers. Mentor-prot?g? communications will be supported throughout the mentoring relationship by commercially provided virtual conferencing technology that supports file sharing and shared desktop applications. Evaluation of prot?g?s'progress toward meeting their personalized set of goals will be obtained using surveys fielded four times during their yearlong participation (including a baseline measure obtained before they begin). Within the 3 years of funding, the mentoring network and the associated educational and communication initiatives will be designed, implemented, and evaluated (and improved where needed) to become an enduring program supported by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
This Mentoring Network will strengthen the research workforce of clinician-scientists addressing communication disorders by pairing exceptional established scientists with promising young researchers. Sustained mentoring is provided at three critical stages in development, from predoctoral trainee to transitioning junior faculty. Research in communication health will improve outcomes for those with communication disorders.