Training the future generation of scientists for non-academic careers

An often eye-opening fact is that less than 25 percent of trained Ph.D.s obtain tenure-track faculty positions. However, little is done in academia to train these graduate students and postdocs for careers outside of academia. The National Institutes of Health addressed this issue in the Biomedical Workforce Report and generated a new funding program through the NIH Common Fund termed Broadening Experience in Scientific Training. This program calls for “innovative approaches to address workforce challenges,” and the first round of BEST awards were recently awarded to ten institutions. The proposed career development programs often include individual development plans, career planning and counseling, internships, partnering with outside organizations, and many more activities that promote professional interactions outside of academia. Of note, many of the proposal abstracts state that the changing curriculum will not result in an increased training period. Even further, the New York University submission suggests a shorter training period time. Another requirement of the award is to track the progress and success of the program and the individuals participating. If these prove fruitful, then the programs may expand to more universities and research institutions, thereby creating a more promising career training landscape for a greater number of Ph.D.s. These new grants may also attract graduate students and postdocs to the funded institutions given their ability to expand trainees’ future opportunities. Only time will tell how effective these programs are and it is a promising outlook. Follow the Policy Blotter as we keep you up to date with this program!

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