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Table 1 Taxonomy of themes in the responses by National Advisory Committee members of the Research in Academic Pediatrics Initiative on Diversity to six questions on the keys to academic success for under-represented minority young investigators

From: Keys to academic success for under-represented minority young investigators: recommendations from the Research in Academic Pediatrics Initiative on Diversity (RAPID) National Advisory Committee


Response Themes

What’s the single most important key to success for a young investigator from a disadvantaged background?

• Having mentorship

• Having multiple mentors

• Write often

• Be strategic about your financial situation

• Negotiate well, especially regarding protected time for research

• Be passionate about what you study

• Get the right training and be confident about your ability to achieve your goals

• Don’t view yourself as “disadvantaged”

• Be tenaciously persistent and “fail productively” (learn from each failure)

How does a young investigator ensure the very best possible mentorship?

• Assemble several different mentors to address your multiple needs

• Don’t be passive: work hard to get what you need from your mentors

• Identify your future professional trajectory

• Ensure that your mentor has a proven track record for success

• Find a mentor who will invest in you

• Spend sufficient time with your mentors

• Make sure that your personality/style is a good fit with the mentor

• Have a mentor who also is a sponsor, with a clear investment in you and your success

• Have at least one mentor who is a “coach”: able to provide honest feedback, assist with achieving work/life balance, and facilitate networking

When you have a patient or family who says, “I don’t want you to see my child because you are ____,” What do you do? How do you react so that the family gets the best care and you’re being ethical, while protecting yourself?

• Seek to understand the reasons

• Exercise professional detachment

• Help the patient nevertheless

• Seek training about unconscious bias

• If the patient is medically stable, transfer her/him

• Hold open forums to discuss incidents and develop coping strategies

• Protect and take care of yourself

• Debrief and process with trusted colleagues

In these really challenging times for obtaining research funding, what are the best strategies for maximizing funding success?

• Use small grants to build your portfolio

• Seek non-traditional funding streams

• Leverage funding from mentors

• Write many proposals

• Collaborate with partners

• Network

• Strategically analyze the funder pay lines

• Establish a publication track record

• Negotiate protected time and resources in new jobs

• Participate in study sections

How does an under-represented minority balance volunteering or being chosen to be on often time-consuming committees which, of course, need diverse voices like yours, with having enough time to advance your own research and career objectives?

• Using these opportunities to generate scholarly products

• Add such committee work to your CV and turn it into scholarly products

• Choose committees strategically with the help of a mentor

• Join committees in the context of being an expert

• Developing a triage process based on interests and being politically savvy

• Balance commitments with an eye towards promotion

• Prioritize activities that promote diversity and excellence

What is the single thing that you wish someone had told you when you were a beginning young investigator which would have substantially enhanced your success early on?

• Ask for all needed resources

• Identify what others negotiated for to determine the components of competitive job offers

• Be focused

• Be open and seek advice

• Get outside your comfort zone

• Learn how to write well and often

• Focus on fulfilling your own standards of excellence, rather than achieving external milestones and validation