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Individualized Training and Practice in Research Career Navigation Skills

Phase I

Project Info

Project Description

ID: 1R43TR000256-01
TERM: 08/12 – 08/13

As emphasized by the NIH Roadmap and NCRR’s Strategic Priorities, NIH’s broad mission to improve health outcomes for all persons depends on the ability to train and retain future generations of clinical and translational researchers who can quickly and effectively translate research findings into clinical practice. However, the past two decades have witnessed a significant decline in the clinical scientist workforce, which threatens our nation’s ability to leverage advances in basic biomedical and behavioral sciences into improvements in public health. The transition to independent scientist is a particularly high-risk period for attrition from the research career path. Early career researchers face a variety of challenges when beginning their career and many of the skills needed to successfully establish and maintain a research career are not well taught during formal training. The need for and value of training in career navigation skills, such as planning, negotiation, and management, has been increasingly recognized. However, current attempts to bridge this educational gap tend to be either generic, static written materials which are limited in their utility for a given researcher or in-person workshops that are available to only a limited number of select trainees. The primary goal of this SBIR project is to create an interactive software product that provides individualized training and practice in career navigation skills to clinical and translational scientists on a broad scale. Through this software, recent advances in intelligent tutoring systems will be integrated so that researchers can actively participate in specific career challenges (e.g., negotiating salary) within a private, computer-based environment.

This Phase I proposal will accomplish four specific aims: (1) gather recommendations through literature searches and interviews with highly experienced scientists who are actively engaged in training researchers in order to identify specific challenges faced by early career clinical and translational researchers as they transition to independent scientist, specific skills associated with success in career planning, negotiation, and management, and current best practices in career development training; (2) create the software prototype based on these recommendations and best practices; (3) conduct stakeholder feasibility test with independent researchers and early career researchers; and (4) use feasibility data to generate the Phase II development plan with a complete list of training modules and challenge areas to be included in the full software product. Phase I research is expected to demonstrate strong support for the interactive software product across stakeholders and essential feedback to guide Phase II development and testing.