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Developing a Research Mentorship Program: The American Society of Pediatric Nephrology's Experience

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Background: Most pediatric nephrologists work in academia. Mentor-mentee relationships provide support and guidance for successful research career. Mentorship program implementation is valuable in medical fields for providing research opportunities to young faculty. Methods: The American Society of Pediatric Nephrology (ASPN) established a research mentorship program to (a) assist with matching of appropriate mentor-mentee dyads and (b) establish metrics for desirable mentor-mentee outcomes with two independent components: (1) the grants review workshop, a short-term program providing mentor feedback on grant proposals, and (2) the longitudinal program, establishing long-term mentor-mentee relationships. Regular surveys of both mentors and mentees were reviewed to evaluate and refine the program. Results: Twelve mentees and 17 mentors participated in the grant review workshop and 19 mentees were matched to mentors in the longitudinal program. A review of NIH RePORTER data indicated that since 2014, 13 NIH grants have been awarded. Mentees in the longitudinal program reported that the program helped most with identifying an outside mentor, improving grant research content, and with general career development. Mentors perceived themselves to be most helpful in assisting with overall career plans. Email communications were preferred over phone or face-to-face communications. Mentees endorsed strong interest in staying in touch with their mentors and 100% of mentors expressed their willingness to serve in the future. Conclusion: This mentorship program was initiated and supported by a relatively small medical society and has shown early success in cultivating mentoring relationships for a future generation of clinician-scientists.
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ORIGINAL RESEARCH
published: 24 April 2019
doi: 10.3389/fped.2019.00155
Frontiers in Pediatrics | www.frontiersin.org 1April 2019 | Volume 7 | Article 155
Edited by:
Agnieszka Swiatecka-Urban,
University of Pittsburgh, United States
Reviewed by:
John William Foreman,
School of Medicine Duke University,
United States
Hamidreza Badeli,
Gilan University of Medical Sciences,
Iran
*Correspondence:
Tetyana L. Vasylyeva
tetyana.vasylyeva@ttuhsc.edu
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
Pediatric Nephrology,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Pediatrics
Received: 05 February 2019
Accepted: 02 April 2019
Published: 24 April 2019
Citation:
Vasylyeva TL, Díaz-González de
Ferris ME, Hains DS, Ho J,
Harshman LA, Reidy KJ, Brady TM,
Okamura DM, Samsonov DV,
Wenderfer SE and Hartung EA (2019)
Developing a Research Mentorship
Program: The American Society of
Pediatric Nephrology’s Experience.
Front. Pediatr. 7:155.
doi: 10.3389/fped.2019.00155
Developing a Research Mentorship
Program: The American Society of
Pediatric Nephrology’s Experience
Tetyana L. Vasylyeva 1
*, María E. Díaz-González de Ferris2, David S. Hains 3,
Jacqueline Ho 4, Lyndsay A. Harshman 5, Kimberly J. Reidy 6, Tammy M. Brady7,
Daryl M. Okamura 8, Dmitry V. Samsonov 9, Scott E. Wenderfer 10 and Erum A. Hartung 11
1Department of Pediatrics, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Amarillo, TX, United States, 2UNC Transition
Program, Manning Drive N.C. Children’s Hospital, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, 3Division
of Pediatric Nephrology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, United States, 4UPMC Children’s Hospital of
Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 5Division of Pediatric Nephrology, Department of
Pediatrics, University of Iowa Stead Family, Iowa City, IA, United States, 6Department of Pediatrics, Montefiore Medical
Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, NY, United States, 7Division of Pediatric
Nephrology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, United States, 8Center for Developmental Biology
and Regenerative Medicine, Seattle Children’s Hospital, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States, 9New York
Medical College, Valhalla, NY, United States, 10 Renal Section, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital,
Houston, TX, United States, 11 Division of Nephrology, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Perelman School of Medicine of the
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States
Background: Most pediatric nephrologists work in academia. Mentor-mentee
relationships provide support and guidance for successful research career. Mentorship
program implementation is valuable in medical fields for providing research opportunities
to young faculty.
Methods: The American Society of Pediatric Nephrology (ASPN) established a research
mentorship program to (a) assist with matching of appropriate mentor-mentee dyads
and (b) establish metrics for desirable mentor-mentee outcomes with two independent
components: (1) the grants review workshop, a short-term program providing mentor
feedback on grant proposals, and (2) the longitudinal program, establishing long-term
mentor-mentee relationships. Regular surveys of both mentors and mentees were
reviewed to evaluate and refine the program.
Results: Twelve mentees and 17 mentors participated in the grant review workshop
and 19 mentees were matched to mentors in the longitudinal program. A review of NIH
RePORTER data indicated that since 2014, 13 NIH grants have been awarded. Mentees
in the longitudinal program reported that the program helped most with identifying an
outside mentor, improving grant research content, and with general career development.
Mentors perceived themselves to be most helpful in assisting with overall career plans.
Email communications were preferred over phone or face-to-face communications.
Mentees endorsed strong interest in staying in touch with their mentors and 100% of
mentors expressed their willingness to serve in the future.
Conclusion: This mentorship program was initiated and supported by a relatively small
medical society and has shown early success in cultivating mentoring relationships for a
future generation of clinician-scientists.
Keywords: mentorship, research, society, grants, pediatrics
Vasylyeva et al. Research Mentorship Program
INTRODUCTION
Mentoring is a special partnership between two people based
on common goals and expectations, focus, and mutual trust
and respect (1). Successful mentoring requires commitment
to this process by both mentors and mentees and it serves
as an important career advancement mechanism for both (2).
Mentors provide guidance and promote a mentee’s achievement
in any or all of the following: academic pursuits, clinical
excellence, life/professional goals and work-life balance. Neely
et al. wrote, “Development of an academic career easily
follows a clinical course for which there are multiple role
models; however, development of an academic research career
involves few role models, and rarely do instructional guides
reach out to the new faculty” (3). In addition to professional
aptitude, two components appear essential for a successful
research career: (1) a broad supportive infrastructure, and
(2) a person- and time-specific continuous mentor-mentee
relationship. Positive mentoring relationships require trust,
respect, shared information, resources, and expectations as
well as professional, enthusiastic, supportive, and collaborative
problem-solving (4).
Although a number of papers and internet resources address
mentorship programs (58), very few focus on development of
an academic research career for physician-scientists (3,912).
These resources are mostly institution-based and oriented to
students and/or graduate medical trainees (1315). Two recent
papers addressed more sponsorship-type programs instead of
structural research mentorships (16,17). Faculty development
programs from medical societies are more oriented toward
educational research. For example, the American Society of
Hematology developed an educational scholarly project (18)
and the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
supports a mentoring program for early career members (19).
The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine expressed additional
concern about forthcoming training of physician-scientists:
uncertainties related to future administration of health care,
federal support for research, attrition of physician-scientists,
and an inadequate supply of new scholars (20). Furthermore,
the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has
increased the scholarly productivity requirements for residency
programs, placing even more pressure on faculty to be productive
in this realm.
Recognizing the need, the American Society of Nephrology
(ASN) recently introduced an extensive set of electronic
educational resources, presented in brief animations, podcasts,
and other media for internal medicine nephrologists. These
resources detail effective communication, identifying the
right mentor or mentee, navigating mentorship challenges,
and assessing a mentee’s understanding of expectations
(21). These resources developed by an adult medicine
subspecialty professional society addressed universal challenges
to academic medicine. Although virtually all ASPN members
are also ASN members, gaps remained for those trained in
pediatric nephrology.
As with other pediatric subspecialties, many pediatric
nephrologists work in small divisions with as few as 1–3 faculty
in a group. Thus, the lack of a local, experienced research mentor
to guide research development and review early faculty progress
is common. Recognizing that many junior investigators could
benefit from the addition of established senior investigators to
their mentoring team, the ASPN created a research mentorship
program in 2014.
The specific goals of the ASPN mentorship program were
(1) to provide junior investigators with successful research
mentors outside their home institutions who have similar
research interests, and (2) to provide mentorship training
to more established investigators who are ready to become
mentors. This program allowed mentors to support junior
faculty career development, academic pursuits, and development
of grant funding proposals. In this descriptive paper, we
present the unique experiences and early data gathered during
the ASPN research mentorship program development and
implementation. Our experiences may serve as an example for
other medical societies seeking to improve junior faculty research
mentoring experiences.
METHODS
Development of the ASPN Mentorship
Program
The ASPN Mentorship Program was conceived and developed
by the ASPN Research Committee in 2014 to match mentors
with self-identified mentees and establish an environment for
desirable mentor-mentee research outcomes. The program
was designed to be dynamic and open to modifications based
on periodic surveys and evaluations by all participants. In
2016, a Quality Improvement (QI) framework was formalized
with creation of an American Board of Pediatrics (ABP)-
approved Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Part 4
program. The program was administered by the co-chairs
of the Research Committee, who typically serve 3-year
terms. ASPN senior leadership (Council of the Society)
ensures management support and monitors step-by-step
progress reports.
The mentoring program had two components: (a) the short-
term grant review program, designed to help a mentee with
a specific grant submission and (b) the longitudinal program,
which facilitates the establishment of long-term mentor-mentee
relationships to aid in career development. Mentors and
mentees can choose to participate in one or both components.
Furthermore, the mentee can participate in the grant review
program as often as desired. One of the most important
approaches to ensure success of the program is optimal matching
of mentors and mentees.
Requirements for Mentors and Mentees
The ASPN Research Committee co-chairs selected potential
mentors for each mentee among the existing research committee
members, current members of the Society, or established non-
Society mentors aligned within the field of pediatric nephrology.
The selection process was iterative, with feedback from both
mentees and potential mentors to ensure no conflicts of interest
or conflicts in commitment. To participate in the program,
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Vasylyeva et al. Research Mentorship Program
mentees need only to be ASPN members in good standing.
ASPN mentees who entered in the longitudinal program
perceived that mentors would help with their career and
research development.
Grant Review Program
The grant review program consisted of an annual in-person
grant review workshop held in conjunction with a large national
meeting. These workshops were held in a “mock study section”
format, with 3–4 mentors serving as primary and secondary
reviewers for 2–3 grants presented orally by groups of mentees.
The structure of these workshops was tailored to the needs
of the mentees who were assigned to small groups based on
research topic or methodology. Mentors are selected based
on proven track record of grantsmanship sufficient for the
mentees’ stage of training. However, often mid-level and senior
investigators were assigned as reviewers for the same career
development grants in order to also provide experience for mid-
level faculty on grant review. Mentees submitted drafts of their
grant applications in advance of the in-person workshop, and the
mentors were asked to complete a written review using a standard
NIH-style review template. Mentees were required to submit
a specific aims page at a minimum and were also encouraged
to submit other grant sections (e.g., Research Strategy, Career
Development). All participants were asked to keep the review
process confidential.
Longitudinal Program
Mentees and mentors in the longitudinal program signed a
Mentoring Partnership Agreement on enrollment to formalize
the relationship and clarify individual expectations. These
expectations included committing to regular meetings (in person
at least annually; by phone or virtually at other time points),
maintaining confidentiality, reviewing and revising the mentees’
goals statements annually, providing each other with honest,
direct, and respectful feedback, and providing program feedback
to the Research Committee. Mentees were asked to write a goals
statement, to be reviewed/updated annually with their mentors.
Mentees were also encouraged to contact the mentor regularly
via phone or electronic communication to discuss specific needs
related to grant review, programmatic development, promotion,
and tenure.
Mentors in the program are experienced, independently-
funded physician scientists, who are able to work with mentees
to develop goals with realistic expectations and individualized
career development plans. Mentors who reviewed grants for
mentees also participated in the grant review component were
often selected to become a longitudinal mentor. It was important
for mentors to commit to meeting routinely with the mentees
to review progress, give feedback, provide recommendations for
improvements, and guide academic career development (e.g.,
assist with grant proposals, manuscript submissions, and oral
presentations). The Program leadership maintains Mentorship
Partnership Agreements but does not review goals statements
or drafts of grants/manuscripts, which are only shared between
mentees and their mentors.
Role of the ASPN in Program Promotion
and Support
The role of the ASPN in the mentorship program was to
advertise the program, elicit participation, judiciously select and
contact mentors for each new mentee in the program, review
program feedback and outcome metrics regularly to improve
the program organization, and develop education workshops.
Research Committee members who participated in the QI project
had to attend meetings to review survey data at least twice yearly
for 2 years to be eligible to receive ABP MOC Part 4 credit.
Research Mentorship Program Evaluation
Surveys were sent to mentees and mentors using Survey
Monkey R
. Surveys were designed based on program metrics
and questions were left unchanged from year-to-year to allow
tracking of program efficacy over time in a standard fashion.
Mentees and mentors in the longitudinal program were asked
about methods and rates of contact with each other within the
context of the program. Mentees and mentors in the grants
review workshop were asked about what portions of their grants
were specifically reviewed. Metrics selected to rate the quality
of the program included expectations, number, and format of
meetings between mentors and mentees, type of grants reviewed,
number and content of sections of grants reviewed, and perceived
helpfulness of mentee-mentor interactions in specific areas (i.e.,
improving grantsmanship). NIH grants are tracked using the
RePORTER database (https://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.
cfm). Metrics were collated by the ASPN Research Committee
co-chairs and reviewed in aggregate at Committee meetings on a
quarterly basis. Program improvements were implemented on an
ongoing basis.
In response to participants’ feedback that the program would
benefit from more active oversight from the Research Committee,
a mentorship program Oversight Subcommittee was formed
in 2017. This Oversight Committee, which consists of former
co-chairs of the Research Committee and other senior ASPN
members, reaches out to mentees and mentors in the longitudinal
program on a regular basis to ensure continued mentor-mentee
contact and to provide educational resources.
RESULTS
Outcomes of the ASPN Mentorship
Program
Since its inception, 12 mentees and 17 mentors have participated
in the grant review program and 19 were matched as mentor-
mentee pairs for the longitudinal component. Ten mentees
participated in both programs, so there have been 21 unique
mentees in the mentoring program. Of these, 16 were women
and 5 were men. At the time of enrollment in the mentoring
program, 17 mentees were junior faculty and 4 were in
pediatric nephrology fellowship. Fellowship mentees were also
supported by their local Scholarship Oversight Committees. Of
the longitudinal program mentees, 8 have “graduated” from their
formal mentoring relationship and were able to submit a grant.
Mentees were considered to have “graduated” if they had reached
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Vasylyeva et al. Research Mentorship Program
TABLE 1 | American Society of Pediatric Nephrology longitudinal research
mentorship program: Mentees’ perceptions on expectations and meetings with
mentors over a 2-year period, n(%) (Questions were added in 2017, so 2016 data
is not available).
Survey year 2017
n=7
2018
n=8
Question 1: What were your expectations going into
the program?
Submit R01 2 (29) 3 (33)
Submit career development grant 4 (57) 5 (56)
Submit institutional or foundation grant 0 0
Formulating a research career 1 (14) 2 (11)
Question 2: Has this program met your expectations?
Yes 6 (86) 8 (100)
No 1 (14) 0
Question 3: Have you discussed expectations with your
mentor?
Yes 6 (86) 8 (100)
No 1 (14) 0
Question 4: In the past 6 months, how many times did you
have contact with your mentor?
None 2 (29) 1 (12.5)
1 1 (14) 4 (50)
2-3 4 (57) 2 (25)
4 or more 0 1 (12.5)
Question 5: In what manner did you communicate with your
mentor?
Email 2 (29) 3 (44)
Phone 3 (43) 2 (29)
In person 2 (29) (29)
Video chat 0 0
Question 6: Do you have another meeting scheduled?
Yes 1 (14) 4 (50)
No 6 (86) 4 (50)
their goals within the program, which were delineated at the
time of program entry, and therefore chose to formally end their
participation. From the 21 mentees who have participated in
the mentoring program since 2014, review of NIH RePORTER
data in October 2018 indicated 13 successful NIH grants
following mentorship program participation: 5 R01s, 3 R03s, and
5 K awards. Although non-NIH funding (commercial, private
foundations, institutional internal funds, etc.) represents a
substantial source of research support this information was more
difficult to track. We are planning to collect this information in
our upcoming surveys.
Tables 1,2detail longitudinal program mentee and
mentor responses, respectively, to survey questions regarding
expectations, mentee-mentor fit, frequency of communication,
future meeting plans. Sections of grant proposals reviewed
in the longitudinal program are shown in Table 3.Figure 1
represents satisfaction with the grant review (A) and longitudinal
components (B) of the program in various areas.
In 2018, 100% of mentees in the longitudinal program agreed
that the program met their expectations and that expectations
TABLE 2 | American Society of Pediatric Nephrology longitudinal research
mentorship program: Mentors’ perceptions on expectations and meetings with
mentees at the end of the represented year, n(%).
Survey year 2016
n=5
2017
n=8
2018
n=6
Question 1: Do you think you were a good fit for your
mentee’s research focus?
Yes 5 (100) 8 (100) 8 (100)
No 0 0 0
Question 2: In what manner did you communicate with
your mentee?
Email 5 (100) 8 (100) 6 (100)
Phone 1 (20) 5 (63) 4 (67)
In person 4 (80) 6 (75) 5 (83)
Video chat 1 (20) 0 1 (17)
Question 3: Number of times you met with your mentee?*
None 1 (13) 3 (50)
1 3 (38) 2 (33)
2–3 3 (38) 0
4 or more 1 (13) 1 (17)
Question 4: Would you be willing to serve as a mentor in
the future?
Yes 4 (80) 8 (100) 6 (100)
No 1 (20) 0 0
Mentors were surveyed after each year of the active program. *Question added to survey
in 2017.
TABLE 3 | American Society of Pediatric Nephrology longitudinal research
mentorship program: Mentees’ and mentors’ reports of which sections of the
grant were reviewed [n(%) of positive responses].
Grant sections reviewed Mentees Mentors
Years 2016
n=6
2017
n=7
2018
n=8
2016
n=5
2017
n=8
2018
n=6
No comment 2 (33) 1 (14) 2 (25) 0 2 (25) 1 (17)
Concept/plan only 1 (17) 1 (14) 3 (38) 4 (80) 2 (25) 4 (67)
Specific aims 3 (50) 5 (71) 6 (75) 1 (20) 6 (75) 3 (50)
Significance 1 (17) 3 (43) 1 (13) 1 (20) 2 (25) 2 (33)
Innovation 1 (17) 4 (57) 1 (13) 1 (20) 2 (25) 1 (17)
Approach 2 (33) 5 (71) 2 (25) 2 (40) 5 (63) 2 (33)
Career development plan 0 1 (14) 1 (13) 0 1 (13) 0
were clearly communicated with the mentors. During a 6 month
period, 50% of mentees met with their mentors face to face at
least once, 25% met 2–3 times, and 12.5% met 4 or more times
(Table 1). The vast majority of the longitudinal program mentees
discussed the Specific Aims of their grants but interactions were
less focused on their overall career development plan (Table 3).
For the longitudinal component, email communications were
preferred over phone or face-to-face communications.
While every mentor over the initial 3-year-period strongly
believed that he/she was a good fit for their mentee, mentors’
perceptions of the program differed from mentees’ in key aspects.
Mentors in both the grants review and longitudinal components
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Vasylyeva et al. Research Mentorship Program
FIGURE 1 | American Society of Pediatric Nephrology research mentorship program: Mentees’ ratings of the program’s helpfulness in different areas, and mentors’
ratings of their own helpfulness to their mentees. (A) Grant review mentees, (B) Grant review mentors, (C) Longitudinal program mentees, and (D) Longitudinal
program mentors.
of the program perceived their overall helpfulness relatively low
on a scale from 1 to 10 (Figures 1B,D), despite the mentees
rating the program’s helpfulness relatively highly (Figures 1A,C).
Although no more than 14% of longitudinal program mentees
reported reviewing long term career development plans with
their mentors (Table 3), mentees rated the program relatively
highly for helpfulness in general career development (score
7.0–7.9 out of 10, Figure 1B). Similarly, mentors also reported
that they believed they were helpful to their mentees in
“overall career plans” (score 7.2–7.4 out of 10, Figure 1D).
As the program has evolved and improved over the years,
100% of mentors expressed their willingness to serve in the
future (Table 2). During the course of this program, the
longitudinal component demonstrated sustained improvement
in satisfaction (Figures 1C,D).
DISCUSSION
We described the development and management of a junior
faculty oriented research mentorship program within a
pediatric medical subspecialty. The ASPN mentorship program
experience demonstrates participant satisfaction, mentor-
mentee stability, programmatic improvement over time,
and notably a high yield of NIH grants during the project
implementation period. Development of such a program
within a relatively small pediatric society is challenging but
essential. This model could serve as an example for other similar
medical organizations.
The ASPN mentorship program addresses an important
gap identified by academic nephrologists at the start of their
careers. While some of the challenges experienced by new faculty
in pediatric subspecialties are common with other aspiring
physician scientists in other medicine careers, some are unique
to those in pediatric medicine and nephrology. New faculty
in pediatrics can become overwhelmed with the demands
of juggling clinical practice with a research career. Initiating
research—from conceptualization, proposal development,
grant submission and ultimately to implementation and
dissemination—is challenging, but extremely important for
academic advancement.
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Vasylyeva et al. Research Mentorship Program
The challenges in pediatric nephrology research are
many, including a widespread array of pediatric nephrology
divisions throughout the country that are small and with a
paucity of locally available mentors experienced in multiple
areas of investigation (22). In addition, nephrologists have
several specific needs that are dependent on patients’
unique psychosocial issues and physiology/pathophysiology
of kidney disease (23); these issues are only more
complicated in children. Several renal-related conditions
are relatively uncommon in children, making identification
and recruitment of potential clinical study participants
extremely difficult.
The small work force in pediatric nephrology complicates
the accessibility of young faculty to find research mentorship
from established, independently-funded pediatric nephrologists.
Through the country, with exception of few large centers,
pediatric nephrology programs are represented by 2–5 clinical
faculty (24). Moreover, many institutions do not have the
infrastructure to support junior/mid-level investigators,
which require networking and career guidance from outside
mentors. The ASPN mentorship program addressed many
of these obstacles by matching experts in the field willing
to teach and mentor young investigators even outside
their home institutions. Because of modern advances in
communication, physical location and distance between mentors
and mentees was not taken into consideration, rather their
common research interest and desire to pursue the same
scientific goals.
Lessons Learned From the ASPN
Mentorship Program
Oversight by the ASPN ensured the success of this program
and collection of outcome measurements of the program was
critical. Governing the program through the ASPN research
committee proved to be a viable option. Customized pairing of
mentees with mentors based on academic and research expertise
was a high priority for participants. We believe that requesting
drafts of mentees’ grant applications in advance of the in-person
workshop, and requesting that mentors complete a written
review, substantially increased the success rate of the program
because it ensured that participants were highly motivated.
Mentees highly regarded the ability to receive individualized
feedback from established investigators on their research grant
proposals. Although not employed by ASPN, similar programs
might use an “intelligent match” to achieve the best possible
arrangements, using a very specific matching parameters and
computerized approach. E-mail was the preferred mode of
communication to foster ongoing relationship, with mentors
further appreciating the importance of additional face-to-
face contact.
We learned that the design and maintenance of a mentoring
program should be dynamic with frequent assessments for
improvement. An efficient monitoring vehicle was brief periodic
online surveys. The frequency of these surveys could depend
on the program, but annual surveys were adequate in this
experience. In our program response to survey was close to
50% of participants. Results of the surveys were reviewed
and discussed both, at meetings and conference calls with
the Research Committee to identify process improvements.
As a testament to the success of this program, 50% of the
mentees surveyed in 2018 had already scheduled another
meeting with their mentors, and all mentors were willing to
continue sharing their expertise. We also believe that this
program helped to enrich a national network of pediatrician
scientists with similar research interests. It is possible that
people with positive experiences were more likely to complete
the survey. As such, some results may be biased toward
positive experiences.
Challenges for a mentoring program in academic pediatric
nephrology are great but not insurmountable. Limited funding
opportunities across a small number of funding agencies in
the field can make it difficult for junior investigators to
identify and successfully compete for grant funding.Within
small programs, mentees may have difficulty finding a mentor
with the same or similar research interest or appropriate
expertise. Mentors may have topical expertise but lack experience
in pediatric research or grant review. Faculty from smaller
programs may not have access to robust grant writing
or career development curricula. Harnessing the strengths
of pediatric academic societies addresses these challenges
by bringing together mentees and outside mentors from
different institutions.
We were proud of the fact that a significant number
of early and midcareer women scientists benefited from the
program. Per national NIH data, women are still under-
represented at every stage of academic advancement. In 2015,
for example, women were 44% of assistant professors, and
35% of professors (25). Our program successfully overcame
that disparity.
Our program has some limitations. Due to the relatively
small number of participants, we cannot provide detailed
characteristics on age, race/ethnicity, and size/resources of their
home institution. Although we chose mentors with strong
track records of NIH-funded research, we did not collect
information about their mentoring activities within their own
institutions. In the future we are planning to collect more data
about mentee’s institutional environment (e.g., size of practice,
characteristics of medical centers, local mentoring) as well as
data about number of proposals funded by the NIH, industry
and foundations.
Suggestions for the Design of Mentoring
Programs
It is fundamental that mentors and mentees who entered a
mentoring program have a clear understanding of the goals,
objectives, and desirable outcomes of the collaboration. Mentors
should be willing to commit to working one-on-one with mentees
and ideally should have a successful track record of grant awards
and research publications. Mentors should help young clinical
scientists to plan, develop, grow, and manage their careers.
Mentors also have an important role in helping junior faculty
members become resilient in times of change, more self-reliant
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Vasylyeva et al. Research Mentorship Program
in their careers, and more responsible as self-directed learners.
Mentees should clearly understand expectations and should be
willing to provide feedback to the program.
Based on our ASPN experience, we identified that the 10
key elements (in no specific order) for successful mentorship
programs are to:
1. Provide concrete advice on specific research pursuits and
promote interaction between mentors and mentees as well
as other content experts with successful research careers;
2. Provide infrastructure that enables pairing of mentors
and mentees, completion of goals statements, assurance of
confidentiality, and successful program completion;
3. Facilitate planning and management of program
assessments, track scheduling, and report documentation;
4. Inform program participants about available specialty
focused NIH and non-NIH funding opportunities;
5. Complete thorough and consistent evaluations of the
participants’ progress;
6. Perform continuous review and evaluation of program
assignments and activities throughout the program cycles
and make appropriate changes;
7. Employ continuous QI techniques (Plan-Do-Study-Act) to
improve programmatic effectiveness;
8. Provide enticements for senior investigators and experienced
mentors to stay involved, such as Maintenance of
Certification (MOC) Part 4 credits from the American
Board of Pediatrics (ABP) for participants;
9. Train a future generation of mentors through role modeling
and feedback.
10. Motivate others with dedication, enthusiasm and good will.
In summary, a structured and well-organized research
mentorship program with strong medical society leadership,
brings professional fulfillment to academic physicians.
In addition, providing increased research mentorship
helps to increase and sustain the research workforce,
which results in more robust research and improved
child health.
CONCLUSION
The ASPN Research Mentorship Program, initiated and
supported within a relatively small medical society; showed early
success in training a future generation of clinician-scientists who
will be able to undertake valuable research that we hope will 1
day lead to better patient outcomes.
AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS
TV participated in the program and led the writing group,
correspondent author. MD-G substantial contribution in
Program improvement and correction of manuscript. DH led a
mentorship program, participated in writing. JH led mentorship
program, participated in writing. LH actively participated in
mentorship program and manuscript writing. KR actively
participated in mentorship program evaluation and manuscript
writing. TB led the program, writing. DO led the program,
writing. DS manuscript revision, suggestions, writing. SW led the
program, participated in survey, data analysis and writing. EH
led the program, survey, data analysis, graphs for paper, writing
and revisions.
FUNDING
This paper has been funded by the Dr. Vasylyeva research
fund, which is supported by research overhead money, private
donations, and fund raising events. EH is supported by a
career development grant from the National Institutes of
Health, K23-DK109203.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The recommendations in this paper are the work of authors
representing the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology
(ASPN) and are endorsed by the ASPN Council, but are not
necessarily representative of the opinions of each individual
member of the ASPN.
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Copyright © 2019 Vasylyeva, Díaz-González de Ferris, Hains, Ho, Harshman, Reidy,
Brady, Okamura, Samsonov, Wenderfer and Hartung. This is an open-access article
distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).
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Frontiers in Pediatrics | www.frontiersin.org 8April 2019 | Volume 7 | Article 155
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Clinician educators at academic medical centers often lack the community, mentorship, and faculty development to support their missions around education scholarship and teaching. Inadequate support for clinician educators can lead to professional dissatisfaction and slowed academic advancement. In 2014, ASH conducted a needs assessment of medical school hematology course directors, hematology-oncology fellowship program directors, and other ASH members identified as educators to determine this community’s desire for faculty development in medical education. These data furthered the development of an annual faculty development program for hematology educators offering an interactive curriculum and support for an educational scholarly project. The needs assessment indicated that over 70% of respondents would be personally interested in a faculty development opportunity for hematology educators and only 11% had previously participated in such a program. A steering committee designed an intervention blending didactics, interactive small group exercises, webinars, mentorship for a scholarly project, 360-degree feedback for each participant, and a forum to discuss common career development goals. Of 42 applicants, 20 participants were chosen for the inaugural workshop. Following successful execution of the workshop, participants reported significant increase in confidence in the knowledge, skills, and attitudes targeted by the curriculum. A series of follow-up webinars have been developed to deliver additional content not covered during the workshop and to continue mentorship relationships. The curriculum will be further refined based on feedback from faculty and participants. Long-term outcome measurement will include tracking all participants’ publications and presentations, time to promotion, and involvement in national medical education initiatives.
Article
Purpose: Given concerns about attrition and career outcomes of academic radiation oncologists, we sought to gather empirical evidence regarding mentorship experiences. Methods and materials: We surveyed academic radiation oncologists in the United States and Canada who were within 5 years of board certification, using a pretested questionnaire that included 14 questions evaluating the following aspects of mentorship: relationship development, peer mentorship, satisfaction with mentorship, sponsorship, relationship nature, informal interactions, mentoring roles, presence of a primary mentor, and primary mentor characteristics. We described responses and evaluated associations with gender in separate multivariable regression models that adjusted for years in practice, nature of research, possession of higher degrees, and race. Results: Of 347 faculty surveyed, 221 responded (64% response rate); 66% of respondents were men. Over half of respondents indicated difficulty in identifying role models (56%, n = 124); just under half reported ease in developing mentoring relationships (49%, n = 108). Peer-mentor use was commonly reported (62%, n = 138). Most respondents (66%, n = 145) spent ≤1 hour per month meeting with mentors. Only 51% (n = 112) reported having a primary mentor. Just under half of all respondents reported being very or somewhat satisfied with their mentorship experiences (49%, n = 108). Conclusions: These findings suggest a need for academic radiation oncology departments to facilitate mentorship of all junior faculty through deliberate, structured programs, with training of mentors and mentees alike. It is heartening that substantial rates of sponsorship and peer-mentorship use were reported, which may serve as the grounding for further initiatives.