As a part of its mission, UAB and its faculty are committed to the teaching and training of future scientists and clinicians. The success, productivity, and training-related expertise of UAB faculty members are illustrated through the number of training grants awarded to the institution. Currently, UAB has 26 active, NIH-funded training grants that list a combined total of approximately 500 preceptors. Because UAB recognizes the importance of mentorship of its trainees, the UAB Graduate School established ‘The Dean’s Excellence in Mentorship Award’ in 2007. This award recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments as mentors of graduate students and/or postdoctoral scholars; to date, more than 80 faculty members have received this award. UAB faculty members have also been recognized for their mentorship skills at the national level. Drs. Louis Dale and David Allison have each received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2002 and 2007, respectively.
In addition to ‘The Dean’s Excellence in Mentorship Award’ the UAB Graduate School together with other units across campus, including but not limited to the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), provide a number of resources for mentors as described below.
CCTS Mentoring Lunch and Training Group Sessions
On the first Friday of each month, the CCTS hosts an informal lunch meeting during which mentors are encouraged to attend and discuss mentoring-related items of interest. The CCTS also offers more informal mentor training group sessions where faculty may expand their mentoring skills and knowledge. New groups form at least twice a year and utilize the mentor training curriculum guide entitled Entering Mentoring, developed by investigators at the University of Wisconsin and built around six main competencies:
- maintaining effective communication
- aligning expectations
- assessing understanding
- addressing equity and inclusion
- fostering independence
- promoting professional development
UAB Mentor Appreciation Week
Each April, the UAB Graduate School together with the Office of Postdoctoral Education, the CCTS, the Office of the Provost, and additional academic and research units facilitate “UAB Mentor Appreciation Week”. The purpose of this event is to celebrate mentors at UAB and to recognize their efforts in training graduate students and postdoctoral fellows across campus. The week is comprised of interactive and activities, including a keynote speaker, role-playing theater skits, and the aforementioned “Dean’s Excellence in Mentorship Award” ceremony. Previous keynote speakers have included Dr. Judith Greenberg, former NIH / NIGMS acting director; Dr. Philip Clifford, co-creator of the AAAS MyIDP; Dr. Kenneth Gibbs, NIH / NCI fellow and thought leader in the area mentoring and career development; and Dr. Molly Carnes, renowned researcher and speaker in the field of implicit bias. The week also includes the “UAB Mentoring Academy”, which is an all day-event that informs new and junior faculty about best mentoring practices through a series of case studies and interactive elements.
Individual Development Plan instruction
An Individual Development Plan (IDP) facilitates dialogue between mentors and trainees in order to plan goals for training. It is strongly encouraged by the NIH for every graduate student and postdoc supported by an NIH grant, regardless of funding mechanism.
UAB provides all trainees with information about the benefits of IDPs for their desired career outcomes. Training sessions for new and continuing trainees and mentors are provided throughout the year and via bimonthly drop-in IDP consultations sponsored by the UAB CCTS.