The Training in Research for Academic Neurologists to Sustain Careers and Enhance the Numbers of Diverse Scholars (TRANSCENDS), a career advancement opportunity for neurology fellows and junior faculty from groups underrepresented in medicine (UIM), may aid early career individuals enter and stay in the mainstream of neurologic research and academic neurology, according to study results published in Neurology.
Previous studies have shown that UIM physician-scientists are less likely to receive research grants or to be promoted, and also report lower career satisfaction, compared with non-UIM faculty.
The TRANSCENDS program, funded by the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke and the American Academy of Neurology, seeks to improve scientific knowledge, professional development skills, and motivation among early career UIM’s and persons with disabilities to help them achieve a career in research.
Since the start of TRANSCENDS program 4 years ago, 10 men and 13 women scholars enrolled, including 7 junior faculty and 16 scholars in training. Of these, 11 scholars graduated from the program. For each new scholar enrolled in the program, 2 American Academy of Neurology members are selected every year to serve as mentors.
Each mentee completed an interview to determine their current research career progress and prior experience. They provided data on their goals in the program and professional development challenges. The attendees completed another interview at the end of the 2-year program and provided feedback about their experience.
According to the entrance interview, the participants wished to develop several skills, including review of literature, scientific writing, networking skills, designing clinical trials, presentation skills, negotiating skills, and leadership and mentoring skills. At the exit interview the participants reported professional skills gained in grant writing, statistical analysis, networking/social support, career advancement, valuable mentorship, sense of purpose, and leadership and team science skills.
Writing and publishing peer-reviewed papers is a common challenge for many UIM scholars. As this has a major impact on the career advancement in academic medicine, the program has a particular emphasis on this issue and participants have published 180 peer-reviewed articles.
As for areas for improvement, the participants suggested more career development training, greater clarity of mentor/mentee expectations and on the timeline of activities throughout the program, greater prioritization of publication and grant benchmarks, and more opportunities for presenting research.
“TRANSCENDS is a feasible program for supporting UIM neurologists towards careers in research and faculty academic appointments attained thus far have been sustained. Although longer-term outcomes and process enhancements are warranted, programs like this may help increase the numbers of diverse academic neurologists and further drive neurologic innovation,” concluded the researchers.
Tagge R, Lackland DT, Gorelick PB, et al. TRANSCENDS: a career development program for underrepresented in medicine scholars in academic neurology. Neurology. 2021;23;97(3):125-33. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000012058