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VCU BEST (Broadening Experiences for Scientific Training) and Professional and Personal Development BACKGROUND Graduate education in the biomedical sciences,

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Presentation on theme: "VCU BEST (Broadening Experiences for Scientific Training) and Professional and Personal Development BACKGROUND Graduate education in the biomedical sciences,"— Presentation transcript:

1 VCU BEST (Broadening Experiences for Scientific Training) and Professional and Personal Development BACKGROUND Graduate education in the biomedical sciences, historically designed to train future academicians, has not changed significantly despite an evolving job market and job trends for biomedical scientists. The NIH Advisory Committee to the NIH Working Group on the Future of Biomedical Research Workforce recently published a report that confirms that a growing fraction of scientists, approximately 30% in 2008, work in non-research- or even non-science-related jobs. Only 43% of all biomedical scientists are employed in academia 1, and many of these individuals are primarily in teaching positions with little or no involvement in research. Respondents to the NIH Advisory Committee ’ s Request for Information expressed a need for self- assessment and self-examination 1-3. This perceived need for enhanced career counseling and development for young biomedical scientists is echoed by others in the graduate education literature, workforce reports from the pharmaceutical industry, and is summarized in our recent publication 4. OBJECTIVES: The goal of BEST, a university-wide career development program, is to transform the culture of biomedical scientist training at VCU by developing AEGDS, a training platform that broadens student awareness of potential careers, provides opportunities to experience career paths, provides guidance for career path(s) selection, allows students to develop the skills sets necessary to be successful, and encourages students to share their experiences, thereby broadening exposure of others in the community (Figure 1). Susanna Wu-Pong, Ph.D. 1, Suzanne Barbour 2, Victoria Shivy 3, Joseph Testani 4, Rosalyn Hobson 5, Joyce Lloyd 2, William Korzun 6, Mark Schaefermeyer, 7 Aron Lichtman 2, Ann Nichols-Casebolt 8, VCU Schools of Pharmacy 1, Medicine, 2 College of Humanities and Sciences 3, University Career Center 4, Schools of Engineering and Education 5, Allied Health Professions 6, Graduate School 7 and Office of the Vice-President for Health Sciences 8, Richmond VA, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Partners Experience Aware Develop Guide Share Project student mentors website seminar career course shadowing PPDP Voc counseling Alumni mentor Skill dev courses Service learning monthly meetings Figure 1: Conceptual Schematic of VCU BEST Table 1: Summary of VCU BEST Certificate of Completion REQUIREMENT PILLAR Timeline Course work Men- toring Experi -ential Partnerships Assessme nt (pgrm/prs nl) Professional and Personal Development, GRAD611 1 st semester (mentoring both yrs) XX 4 schools and UCC contribute; unit coordinators X /X Biomedical Science Careers Seminar 2 nd semester X X (Alumni Assoc) X /- Biomedical Project Course - ENGR591 or GRAD691 3 rd semester electiv e X X (School of Engineering & community partners) X /- Supplemental Career Skills - VCU elective or 2 Career Skill Courses 4 th semester electiv e X X (Graduate School and other units) X/- Vocational counseling All 4 semesters XX (UCC)X /X Shadowing 2 nd semester Part of semina r course X X (Alumni Assoc and corporate partners) X/- Monthly meeting All 4 semesters X w/ peer mentori ng X/- Table 2. VCU BEST Partners BEST ComponentPartner BEST investigators/steering committee Schools of Pharmacy, Allied Health, Medicine, Education, College of Humanities and Sciences, Office of Vice President for Research, Graduate School, University Career Center (UCC) Unit Coordinators Schools of Pharmacy, Allied Health, Medicine, Education, Dentistry, Engineering, Nursing, College of Humanities and Sciences, VCU Life Sciences Experiential Learning Office of Community Engagement; participating VCU units, participating community partners Vocational counselingUCC, College of Humanities and Sciences Elective offerings Graduate School (will also involve many units in course creation such as Technology Transfer), University Career Center, da Vinci Center and affiliated partners all academic units at VCU Career MentorsAlumni Association ShadowingAlumni Association; Shadowing host sites Core curriculum Graduate School, Biomedical science units (contribute and identify seminar speakers), BEST administration Office of Vice President for Research, Graduate School, BEST investigators, VCU Development Office (resources) Advisor/program director training VCU Global Education Office BEST Advisory Committees Participating VCU units, alumni representing non-academic careers, PSGP Graduate Advisory Board Team projectsAny unit at VCU METHOD BEST is an optional 5-6 credit certificate program (transcript notation) offered over 3-4 semesters. The program was built around the School of Pharmacy ’ s Professional and Personal Development course (now GRAD611) and Pharmacy ’ s Career Mentor Network programs (Table 1). BEST includes an array of partners (Table 2), approaches (Table 1, Figure 1) and learning objectives (Table 3) to provide comprehensive career and professional development opportunities. RESULTS Assessments from both the VCU pilot and first VCU-wide GRAD611 course demonstrate significant changes in student comfort with the learning objectives with each module (Table 4) and a strong impact of the program on at least some of the students (Table 5), especially in the area of strengths development (Figure 2). In addition, preliminary results from course evaluations (not shown) and final essays (Table 5) suggest that the course may have short- and long-term impact on career planning, improved perspective and self-efficacy. * On a scale of 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree) assessing learning objective (LO) comprehension Figure 2. Word Cloud for Final Essays - The content of each student’s final essay was compiled into a word cloud on wordle.net. DISCUSSION We envision that AEGDS-trained students in VCU BEST (Tables 1-3, Figure 1) will be better prepared to select the right career paths, work in interdisciplinary teams in those careers, and mentor other aspiring biomedical scientists. The outcomes from GRAD611 suggest increased student comfort and capability with learning objectives in all topic modules: self knowledge, personal brand, motivating oneself and others and managing relationships (Table 4). In addition, GRAD611 appears to have had an impact on a number of the students in their self-management, feeling empowered and positive emotion, making change in purposeful and meaningful ways (Table 5), especially in the area of strengths development (Figure 2). Future studies will include replication of this course with a larger cohort, measuring changes in career self-efficacy and confidence, and long term impact of the program on the participant. LITERATURE CITED 1. Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on the Future of Biomedical Research Workforce. NIH request for information: Future biomedical research workforce. Summary of contents Fuhrmann CN, Halme DG, O'Sullivan PS, Lindstaedt B. Improving graduate education to support a branching career pipeline: Recommendations based on a survey of doctoral students in the basic biomedical sciences. CBE Life Sci. Edu. 2011;10(3): Stephans P. How economics shapes science. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; Wu-Pong S, Gobburu J, O'Barr S, Shah K, Huber J, Weiner D. The future of the pharmaceutical sciences and graduate education: Recommendations from the AACP graduate education special interest group. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 2013;77(4):S4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Our thanks to VCU Quest Innovation Fund, Altria Regulatory Sciences, the VCU Schools of Pharmacy, Medicine, Allied Health Professions, and the VCU Global Education Office for supporting this program.


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