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Background:

The following summary provides preliminary findings for the UNC NIGMS Program Evaluation Supplement (NOT-GM-20-020). The purpose of this work was to describe and understand the needs of NIGMS-funded T32 Programs and to develop evaluation support for program directors. Efforts included analysis of documents (e.g., grant proposals), trainee focus groups, and interviews with employers of program graduates and leaders in the field.

Data Sources:

  • Logic Models (n=9 programs) derived from grant proposals, program director feedback, and analyzed with thematic analysis
  • Trainee Perspectives (n=20 trainees in 4 focus groups) documented through focus group notes and analyzed with thematic analysis
  • Leadership Perspectives (n=4 leaders) documented through interview notes and written¬† comments and analyzed using thematic analysis
  • Employer Perspectives (n=6 employers) documented through interview notes and analyzed using thematic analysis

Preliminary Findings:

The following themes and subthemes were identified from the data sources described above.

1. Trainee Skill Development: skills that trainees need

  • Social and behavioral skills (e.g., adaptability, equity & inclusion, resilience)
  • Communication skills (e.g., written/oral, client-facing, giving/receiving feedback)
  • Collaboration skills (e.g., teamwork, negotiation, community building)
  • Career awareness/development skills (e.g., career exploration & exposure, business acumen, project market readiness)
  • Discipline-based skills (e.g., content knowledge, problem solving, technical skills)
  • Productivity skills (e.g., completing projects, meeting grant deadlines, preparing publications/presentations)

2. Program Characteristics: characteristics that training programs need

  • Training environment (e.g., wellness, supportive learning, quality of mentoring, work-life balance, satisfaction)
  • Opportunities offered (e.g., funding for training/travel, mentor/mentee selection and matching)
  • Trainee productivity (e.g., number and types conference presentations, publications, grants, organizational & professional society engagement, special courses/internships completed)
  • Trainee outcomes (e.g., job placement, number of job offers, goal achievement, fellowships)
  • Program transparency (e.g., selection of trainees and mentors, mentor/mentee matching process, faculty/program successes)
  • Assessment culture (e.g., check-ins with trainees, interviews/focus groups, surveys, etc.)

UNC Programs Included:

  • UNC-Duke Collaborative Clinical Pharmacology Postdoc Training
  • Trauma Research Fellowship
  • Predoctoral Training in Pharmacological Sciences
  • Training in Mechanistic, Interdisciplinary Studies of Biological Systems
  • Enhancement Training for the Next Generation of Translational PhD Scientists
  • UNC Initiative to Maximize Student Development
  • UNC Predoctoral Training Program in Bioinformatics & Computational Biology
  • Molecular and Cellular Biophysics Training Program
  • NRSA in Genetics
  • Medical Scientist Training Program

Download Background Slides: T32/R25 Program Directors 2021 Debrief