The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) is an intensive one-year biomedical research, education and mentoring experience carefully designed to provide under-represented minority, disadvantaged, and individuals with disabilities an opportunity to acquire the skills, habits, and mindset associated with success and fulfillment in doctoral training and lifelong scientific careers. Our program will leverage our established IMSD program as well as our robust university Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to provide professional development and role models that support identity development as scientists and long-term support systems for our scholars. The Goals and Measurable Outcomes of MUSC PREP are to: (1) Introduce our PREP scholars to the culture of the biomedical science community of practice through explicit teaching and structured experiences to enable them to assimilate and build their identities as scientists. (2) Provide a safe environment for continuous self-assessment by guiding all of our scholars in the creation and continual refinement of their own individual development plans that will direct their choice of professional and educational activities during the PREP year and beyond. (3) Provide all of our PREP scholars a mentored laboratory research project and opportunity for oral presentation of their research to acquire the critical thinking and communication skills expected at the graduate level, and cultural capital attractive to graduate programs. (4) Enroll all of our scholars in authentic PhD-level coursework to enhance cognitive and non-cognitive skills such that at least 75% of MUSC PREP scholars will matriculate into a top 100 biomedical science PhD or dual degree program. (5) Actively develop individualized long-term support networks for our scholars by introducing them to multiple mentors at MUSC, our regional PREP-IMSD sister institutions, and the National Research Mentoring Network, ensuring that at least 90% of MUSC PREP alumni will complete the PhD and join the workforce in a scientific career. (6) Collect pre-planned objective and subjective outcome data for continuous internal and external assessment and refinement of the program, publication of effective strategies, and to inform best practices for training all science graduate students. If successful, the biomedical workforce of tomorrow will better reflect the racial, ethnic, neurologic, and socioeconomic diversity of the United States than it does today, which in turn may broaden the positive impact of biomedical research and the human health outcomes that follow from it.
The MUSC PREP program will increase the number of trained investigators in the field of biomedical research from underrepresented minority and disadvantaged backgrounds, which will in turn produce a scientific workforce better able to address health disparities, improve the efficacy of biomedical education, and ultimately improve population health in the United States. Furthermore, MUSC PREP strategies that are shown to improve retention and long-term career success of individuals from disadvantaged and under-represented groups in science will be expanded and disseminated to improve the training of biomedical scientists from all backgrounds.
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