A new paper has found that doctoral students who participate in professional development activities during their studies experienced no difference in time to degree or manuscript output compared to their peers who did not participate in professional development during their program.
The study was published on July 15, 2021 in PLOS Biology. “A cross-institutional analysis of the effects of broadening trainee professional development on research productivity” was co-authored by Ambika Mathur, vice provost and dean of The Graduate School, from her work as graduate school dean at Wayne State University. Since PhD-trained scientists are an essential part of the workforce ranging from academia, industry, government, and nonprofit organizations, it is critically important to develop best practices when training the future biomedical workforce. Many institutions, including UTSA, now offer professional training that enables career exploration while developing a broader set of skills in varying pathways.
To that end, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded academic institutions to design innovative programming such as this through a mechanism known as Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST). Their programming includes career panels, job search workshops, internships, and more. The team of researchers analyzed metrics from 10 of the 17 NIH BEST awardee institutions to discover whether participating in additional training might increase doctoral students’ time to degree and research productivity. The study found that no difference was found in degree completion or research output compared to students who did not participate in additional training – and in fact, doctoral students who participate in career and professional development opportunities will be prepared for a variety of important, diverse careers after graduation.
“It is imperative for doctoral students to engage in professional development opportunities as they complete their studies,” said Mathur. “Our findings underscore the importance of career readiness as students prepare to enter the workforce. The Graduate School is proud to offer these opportunities to the UTSA graduate community through our Center for Graduate and Postdoctoral Career and Professional Development.”
The complete study can be read here. The paper’s other authors are Patrick D. Brandt, Susi Sturzenegger Varvayanis, Tracey Baas, Amanda F. Bolgioni, Janet Alder, Kimberly A. Petrie, Isabel Dominguez, Abigail M. Brown, C. Abigail Stayart, Harinder Singh, Audra Van Wart, Christine S. Chow, Barbara M. Schreiber, David A. Fruman, Brent Bowden, Christopher A. Wiesen, Yvonne M. Golightly, Chris E. Holmquist, Daniel Arneman, Joshua D. Hall, Linda E. Hyman, Kathleen L. Gould, Roger Chalkley, Patrick J. Brennwald, and Rebekah L. Layton.