The Use of a Mentoring-Based Conference as a Research Career Stimulation Strategy

Interian, Alejandro PhD; Escobar, Javier I. MD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181b6b2a8
Career Development
Abstract

Purpose: U.S. minority populations, including Latinos, face disparities in many areas of health care: their risk for disease is higher, and their clinical outcomes and quality of care are worse. The discourse related to disparity often highlights the need to increase the number of minority scientists so that the productivity of research focusing on minority populations expands. To work toward this goal, a group of Latino mental health researchers collaborated to develop a national network of senior mentors who participate in annual mentoring-oriented conferences. The group developed a cost-effective program to stimulate the entry of new investigators into the field and to provide mentoring with a focus on Latino mental health issues.

Method: The authors describe a conference platform used as a career stimulation strategy. Five annual conferences (2002-2006) showcased new investigators’ work, paired new investigators with senior researchers, and provided a feedback-oriented environment. The authors used quantitative data to track new investigator career progress (i.e., publications, research grants) and qualitative data to assess all attendees’ feedback, which was provided via conference feedback questionnaires.

Results: The feedback questionnaires revealed high levels of satisfaction with the conference, noting most highly the interactive, friendly, and nurturing conference format. Career tracking data indicated that nearly half of the new investigator participants published their work in peer-reviewed journals, and about one third were successful in obtaining research funding.

Conclusions: These mentoring conferences seem to be an effective tool for stimulating the research careers of new investigators engaged in Latino mental health research.

Author Information

Dr. Interian is assistant professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, New Jersey.

Dr. Escobar is associate dean of global health and professor of psychiatry and family medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, New Jersey.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Interian, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, 675 Hoes Lane, D351, Piscataway, NJ 08854; telephone: (732) 235-3959; fax: (732) 235-5158; e-mail: (interial@umdnj.edu).

© 2009 Association of American Medical Colleges