Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

Social Media and Mentoring in Biomedical Research Faculty Development

Academic journal article The Journal of Faculty Development

Social Media and Mentoring in Biomedical Research Faculty Development

Article excerpt

Purpose: To determine how effective and collegial mentoring in biomedical research faculty development may be implemented and facilitated through social media. Method: The authors reviewed the literature for objectives, concerns, and limitations of career development for junior research faculty. They tabularized these as developmental goals, and aligned them with relevant social media strengths and capabilities facilitated through traditional and/or peer mentoring. Results: The authors derived a model in which social media is leveraged to achieve developmental goals reflected in independent and shared projects, and in the creation and expansion of support and research networks. Conclusions: Social media may be successfully leveraged and applied in achieving developmental goals for biomedical research faculty, and potentially for those in other fields and disciplines.

Our search of the literature revealed a general scarcity on research faculty development, as opposed to that on teaching and clinical faculty. Their respective needs and priorities, however, are seen to differ substantially. Teachers, for example, value acquiring knowledge and functioning better as instructors (Bland, Center, Finstad, Risbey, & Staples, 2005), while clinical faculty desire specialized and focused non-research training (Beck, Wingard, Zuniga, Heifetz, & Gilbreath, 2008). For all faculty, however, mentoring has been found to be a consistent, recurring variable for productivity in different groupings and analysis, e. g. Bland et al (2005), and a priority in career development, e. g. Coates, Love, Santen, Hobgood, Mavis, Maggio, & Farrell (2010).

Mentors provide continuing professional career guidance (Wells, Short, & Lester, 2010), recommend learning and development activities specific to each mentee (Thomas, Diener-West, Canto, Martin, Post, & Streiff, 2004), and are instrumental in promotion, tenure, and other developmental matters (Schuh, 2010; Steinert, McLeod, Boillat, Meterissian, Elizov, & Macdonald, 2009). Close, collegial mentoring has also been found to be especially important for racial minorities, who benefit significantly from emotional and cultural support in these relationships (Feldman, Arean, & Marshall, 2010; Yager, Waitzkin, Parker, & Duran, 2007).

The literature also reveals some fundamental uncertainty as to who should serve as a mentor, in what capacity, and what constitutes good and effective mentoring. From a research perspective, relevant metrics that accurately reflect performance improvement are therefore imperative. The purpose of this manuscript is to first examine objectives, concerns and limitations in research faculty development found in the literature, in the context of current adult learning theory. Synthesizing these as developmental goals, we then sought to identify social media strengths and capabilities which may be used to achieve them, thus facilitating professional development for biomedical research faculty, and potentially for those in other fields and disciplines. Lastly, we propose a social media model in which practical mentoring approaches are seen to yield measurable, quantitative outcomes.

Background

Finding a Mentor

In a national faculty development program centered at the University of California at San Diego, participants reported limited mentorship in advancing their academic trajectory (Beck et al., 2008). One-third of junior faculty at the University of California at San Francisco said that they had no mentor, and most needed assistance in finding an appropriate one (Feldman et al, 2010). Junior faculty members have expressed a need for more formal, centralized and institutionalized mentoring (Bland, Seaquist, Pacala, Center, & Finstad, 2002; Schuh, 2010), possibly in terms of simply finding or being assigned a mentor. At Morehouse University, less than half of surveyed junior faculty felt adequately mentored (Rust, Taylor, Herbert-Carter, Smith, Earles, & Kondwani, 2006). …

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