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Rebekah Layton, PhD, Director of Professional Development Programs at the UNC School of Medicine, co-authored a new PLOS ONE study examining common themes across stakeholder groups both in and outside of academia.

The study, “Using Stakeholder Insights to Enhance Engagement in PhD Professional Development” highlights the importance of seeking input from a wide variety of diverse stakeholders and collaborating with them to provide more tailored and cohesive career development activities, talent pipelines for employers, and importantly establishing partnerships that can benefit stakeholder and academic partners a like.

“Practitioners of career and professional development may feel siloed from connection with stakeholders and partners off-campus unless they build networks to gain additional insights,” Layton said. “In our paper, we shared some themes gained through qualitative interviews with a variety of stakeholders, both internally and externally that may help others get started as well.”

Other highlights include expanding the networks and stakeholder groups represented in academic partnership and networks. While there are many distinctive reasons to engage with academic partners, invitation for partnership and an awareness of the needs of external partners is important across external stakeholders such as for-profit industry, non-profit, funding agencies, professional societies, and others. Help navigating resources and offices on campus would be well-received for many external partners, who note the value of centralized services and points of contact. Internal stakeholders such as faculty note an awareness of the changing job market and training requirements and the need to define professional development more broadly, whereas trainees note the need for more consistent and regular exposure to career training and professional development opportunities.

Layton notes that, “in addition, our team developed and deployed a stakeholder engagement tool that can help academic administrators seek out systematic ways of self-evaluating and diversifying their networks.”

Layton, the Principal Investigator on an NIGMS R01 Science of Science Policy Approach to Analyzing and Innovating the Biomedical Research Enterprise (SCISIPBIO) Award, is continuing research into the education, training, and preparation of PhD trainees for the biomedical workforce, on the project entitled, “SCISIPBIO: Training the Next Generation of Scientific Leaders – Professional Development, Mental Health, & Mentoring.”

Of this project, Layton notes that, “this research award allows us to continue foundational work from our prior NIH Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) Award, while extending our ability to examine factors that impact training with empirical data from what is now an extensive database of our alumni trainee career outcomes.”

This project was co-led by Deepti Ramadoss at the University of Pittsburgh and Amanda F. Bolgioni from Boston University, along with co-authors Rebekah L. Layton, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Janet Alder, Rutgers University; Natalie Lundsteen, UT Southwestern Medical Center; C. Abigail Stayart, University of Chicago; Jodi B. Yellin, Association of American Medical Colleges; Conrad Smart, Cornell University; and Susi Varvayanis, Cornell University.

UNC School of Medicine contact: Mark Derewicz