Study Finds Academic Coaching Helps Retain Minority Students in Ph.D. Programs

seal-whiteA new study by researchers at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, reports on a new coaching program in biomedical Ph.D. programs aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented minority students who go on to careers in academia.

The Academy for Future Science Faculty consists of individual and group-based professional development activities, discussions with fellow students, and highly skilled mentors serving as coaches, many of them minorities themselves, trained in diversity issues.

“For women and students from racial and ethnic minority groups in particular, the program provided new role models and novel opportunities to have difficult conversations about diversity, difference and discrimination in science,” said first author Simon Williams, research assistant professor in medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“The ultimate goal is for more of those in the coaching group – and hopefully more underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups – to end up in faculty positions,” Williams added. “In the field of science, a more diverse workforce allows more complex, varied and diverse questions to be asked and ultimately leads to breakthroughs in research.”

The article, “Coaching to Augment Mentoring to Achieve Faculty Diversity: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” was published in the journal Academic Medicine. It may be downloaded here.

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  1. Good afternoon, I am a master’s student and I find it difficult upon the area of the country you are at to find a mentor of the same culture. I live in San Jose, CA and I work for the VA and most of the employees are Asian or India in higher positions. African Americans are either in the canteen, kitchen, grounds or housekeeping. What should j do to find a mentor?

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