As a member of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Land-grant and Public Universities, graduate education and training are missions of Michigan State University (MSU). Our goal for all trainees in biomedical science is that they are not only highly skilled in their discipline, but flexible and well prepare to thrive in face an ever-changing biomedical workplace. The NIH BEST mechanism affords a valuable opportunity to formalize and improve our professional graduate/postdoctoral training programs, with benefits for all parties involved: graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, the university and science. It is imperative that those who that are trained are better prepared for the opportunities that are real in today's world. MSU BEST will integrate key components that are new to MSU [formal IDP, professional externships, Spheres of Success (SoS) workshops, team building, communication] and leverage existing resources and programs that support training in transferrable skills (Career Success; Wellness) and parallel mentoring]. The highly engaged BEST scholar will participate in these key components. We propose a comparison of outcomes between highly engaged BEST Scholars (test group) and trainees not engaged in BEST (control group) to determine if our input has causes discernable changes. We propose use of strong interventions such that outcomes are measurable and comparable, and our measures include both summative and formative outcomes. Our ultimate goal is that the practices employed by the MSU BEST program become accepted and integrated into all biomedical training programs such that training for and consideration of non-academic careers becomes natural, seamless and accepted.
Training of today's biomedical scientists needs to take into account the fact that an increasingly greater number of trainees go on to a career other than academia, yet trainees have not developed those skills or attained the knowledge that will help them be successful in a non- academic career. MSU BEST will conduct the experiment to test whether certain interventions - new workshops, professional externships, a formal individual development plan, and substantial development of career goals - enables a trainee to be more successful in obtaining a job that appropriately capitalizes on their skills.