CCTR Hosts Inaugural Research Mentor Training Workshop

Master facilitators guide 36 VCU mentors through elements for effective mentoring relationships

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Mentor Workshop

By: Sydney Bernstein-Miller

On Wednesday, August 24, the VCU C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research (Wright CCTR) hosted the inaugural Research Mentor Training Workshop at the VCU Rice Rivers Center.
Mentoring is considered a career critical cornerstone of the scientific enterprise, allowing transfer of knowledge to the next generation of researchers. Despite this, there is very little formal training available to help mentors best support and guide their mentees.
“We saw a real need to have a formalized mentoring event that touched on both training junior faculty and also one that supported more senior investigators in their dynamics with junior faculty, postdocs and graduate students,” said Teraya Donaldson, Ph.D., assistant director of education programs for the VCU Wright CCTR’s Education Core. “To have a strong mentoring program means having successful KL2 Scholars, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and in turn, successful senior investigators as well.”

Kelly Diggs-Andrew, Ph.D(left) and Stephanie House
Kelly Diggs-Andrews, Ph.D. (left) and Stephanie House

The Research Mentor Training Workshop was based on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research’s (UW ICTR) published curriculum, Mentor Training for Clinical and Translational Researchers, which is being used as a framework for training across the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN).
The workshop was co-led by Stephanie House, director of the NRMN Master Facilitators Initiative, and Kelly Diggs-Andrews, Ph.D., education and mentoring fellow for the American Society for Microbiology.

Through a process-based approach, 36 workshop participants explored an intellectual framework for research mentoring, which included reflecting on mentoring skills, participating in case studies to solve mentoring dilemmas, and sharing strategies for success.
“One of the greatest strengths of the training is that it allows mentors time to reflect on their mentoring within a community of their peers, a space to share challenges and best practices,” said House. “Our training is focused on awareness raising, and one of our greatest hopes is that participants will continue the conversations that we began together and find ways to implement changes to enhance their mentoring practice.”
The workshop addressed a myriad of topics, including effective communication, aligning expectations, equity and inclusion, and mentee self-efficacy. House and Diggs-Andrews also encouraged group discussion, bringing together attendees from backgrounds in English, pharmacy, biostatics, psychology, and more.

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“We wanted to create a space for VCU mentors to formally reflect on their mentoring practices and glean new strategies from the experiences of their colleagues,” said Diggs-Andrews. “We hoped they would gain practical knowledge and new mentoring approaches to tackle mentoring challenges and improve relations with their research trainees.”
Though this inaugural workshop has only recently come to a close, Donaldson is already making plans for other mentor trainings.
“I’m looking forward to having rich dialogues again in the future with other researchers,” she said. “I appreciate that so many researchers and faculty at VCU want to improve their mentoring skills and I want to commend everyone who came to the first workshop.”
Evidence of VCU researcher and faculty engagement for the mentoring process and dedication to continued professional development was evident at every level of the workshop.
“I have been impressed by this group’s enthusiasm to enhance their mentoring practice, as demonstrated both during the workshop and by the barrage of emails that ensued afterwards where they began sharing resources,” said House. “There is great momentum at VCU, and I am encouraged that it can translate into real long-term change.”

  • To access resources and materials shared at the Research Mentor Training Workshop, please visit the Mentoring page. Visit the Wright CCTR Facebook page to view more photos from the event.

Mentor Workshop