The Faculty Affairs Office supports Feinberg faculty members in their professional development through a number of programs and initiatives. Learn more about how we work within the medical school and through the broader Northwestern University system to encourage faculty growth and success.
Career Development for Scientists
The Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences (NUCATS) Institute is an integral link in Northwestern University’s clinical and translational research enterprise, accelerating translational innovation by providing research teams with consultative resources and expertise. View the NUCATS website to explore the many resources it offers to support faculty in their research and career development, including popular Mentor Development Workshops.
This series serves as an introduction to some of the most important aspects of transitioning from scientist-in-training to investigator leading a research team or collaborating with peers. It is a joint venture of the Faculty Affairs Office, Feinberg School of Medicine, and the NUCATS Institute. Questions about the series can be directed to Rick McGee, PhD, Associate Dean for Faculty Recruitment and Professional Development, at 312-503-1737.
Based on expressed interests from many early career investigators, Faculty Affairs and NUCATS will be offering a new series to complement the highly successful Navigating the Research Enterprise offered each fall. While Navigating Part 1 focuses on seeking research funding, Navigating Part 2 will focus on key skills of establishing and sustaining a research group along with grants management essentials. Some offerings of this new series will start in late spring of 2018, but the full series will start and typically run from February through May. It will consist of noon-time ‘brown bag’ workshops which are consistently rated as the most convenient times for programs like this. Example topics to be included will be:
- Preparing and allocating a budget for an NIH grant
- Tracking and managing expenses once an award is made
- Effort managing, reporting and certification
- Negotiating, implementing and managing contracts and sub-awards
- Deciding on skills needed in staff to be hired and recruiting staff, students, postdocs
- Assessing skills and fit among applicants
- Interviewing potential staff and trainees – what to look for and how to find it
- Working with Human Resources in posting, choosing and supporting staff
- Mentoring vs. supervising – clarity, aligning, managing staff and trainees
- Feedback, accountability, the occasional tough decisions
- Working with difficult employees and trainees
- Sustaining productivity
- Decisions re: seeking more funding vs. working with what you have
- When and how to say yes and no to professional opportunities
- Creating and maintaining a professional network
- When to think about a second grant
- Identifying or responding to collaboration opportunities - balancing with primary research
Over the past several years, through the efforts of the Faculty Affairs Office, NUCATS, and several individuals, a number of new resources and approaches to improved mentoring in FSM have been developed.
These resources and approaches include:
- Regular workshop series for beginning junior faculty
- Greater emphasis on institutional and individual K awards
- Grant Writers’ Groups for faculty writing first or second NIH R or K applications
- Mock Study Sections for in-depth review and feedback on grants before submission
- New workshops to guide the development of important mentoring skills
Listed below are links to access many of these new resources.
There is no skill or activity that more explicitly marks the progression of a scientist from novice to expert, from someone doing research on others' ideas to constructing and studying their own novel ideas, than the preparation of written research proposals. Young or early career scientists have historically learned the essential skill of writing research proposals from mentors. Some mentors do a superb job of teaching the art and science of proposal writing, but many mentors lack the time and/or experience to actually teach the complex skills of proposal writing. The presumption has often been that learning to write grants is just something one learns "by the seat of your pants". However, this approach is not very efficient and lead to unnecessary failures and delays of funding.
Recognizing the inadequacy of this as a learning design strategy, efforts have been mounted at institutions or through consulting and business arrangements to provide grant writing workshops. These workshops typically last a few hours to a day or two, are largely focused on NIH-style proposals, and many are very well designed. However, having a conceptual idea of what goes into an NIH-style proposal is very different from actually constructing one. Furthermore, when one actually tries to write a proposal there is a complex interplay between the rhetorical patterns and styles of writing and the scientific thinking and research design itself.
Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rick McGee has developed an alternative approach to teaching the art and science of writing research proposals, particularly NIH-style proposals, which is effective at various levels of training. This method has become the cornerstone of faculty development efforts to assist faculty who are in their early career stages to develop research programs at Northwestern University. This approach has been in use at Northwestern since 2008 with over 300 faculty and advanced postdocs participating since then. The core elements of the approach include:
- Small groups (3-5) of writers meeting weekly for 2-3 months under Dr. McGee’s guidance, subdivided by type of research (laboratory, clinical and social/behavioral)
- 90-minute sessions during which real-time feedback is provided on sections of proposal as they evolve
- Emphasis on oral feedback from Dr. McGee and others to enable revisions in real time, captured by audio recording to allow highly engaged iterative revisions
- Primary focus on Specific Aims, Significance, Innovation and Career Development sections of NIH-style proposals
- In-depth written and oral feedback also provided by Dr. McGee as needed
- Stylist approach based on the analysis of rhetorical patterns seen in many successful research proposals as described in a series of videos housed on the Northwestern CLIMB website - http://www.northwestern.edu/climb/resources/written-communication/index.html
- Designed to complement feedback and mentoring from scientific experts and colleagues
Writers groups are formed in July, November and March, about 4 months before each major NIH submission deadline. If you would like to be put on the list to be notified when new groups are forming, contact Nicole Langford (email@example.com). For any questions or additional information feel free to contact Dr. Rick McGee, Associate Dean for Professional Development, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the Grant Writers Groups to assist junior faculty in the early stages of writing of NIH (R or K awards) and similar non-NIH proposals, Feinberg School of Medicine provides an invaluable opportunity to have your completed proposal fully reviewed by two FSM faculty in your field who are experienced NIH reviewers. However, to take advantage of this opportunity, you have to get your act together early. The schedule of what needs to be submitted and when is listed below. The reviewers will be NIH-funded Northwestern faculty who have significant experience with peer review. The choice of reviewers will be individually customized to the scientific and/or career development activities being proposed. This peer review process complements, not replaces, other guidance on developing and writing successful research proposals, such as: the Grant Writers Groups led by Dr. Rick McGee; departmental/division mentoring and peer review activities; and general collegial support.
Feinberg has launched an online resource for residents and fellows who are interested in conducting research. The Housestaff Research Portal provides a roadmap for conducting research, including resources that span the entire research spectrum, from building a strong mentoring relationship to identifying funding sources, developing a hypothesis, disseminating research findings and planning for a career in research. Faculty may find this a helpful resource in mentoring residents and fellows, or find some of the resources on this site useful in their own careers (e.g., Career Advancement Plan for Junior Faculty).
Career Development for Educators
Our mission to support faculty at the Feinberg School of Medicine and affiliated institutions in their quest to become more effective educators irrespective of educational venue: simulation-based settings, small groups, the lecture hall, and the workplace while caring for patients. Our goal is to ensure that Feinberg faculty have knowledge and tools they need to prepare our medical students and residents for their professional lives and provide high quality, compassionate patient care both during their clinical training and throughout their careers.
The Feinberg Academy of Medical Educators (FAME) is committed to advancing the educational mission of the medical school through the recognition and career development of outstanding faculty educators. We also sponsor faculty development programming that is open to the entire Feinberg community, such as the monthly TIME lecture series and the annual Feinberg Medical Education Day. Our mission is to develop, promote and reward great clinician educators.
The Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching focuses on enhancing learning and teaching at all levels of the University and is dedicated to four core activities: faculty development; graduate student and postdoctoral scholar development; undergraduate academic support and enrichment; and assessment, evaluation, and education research. Through its wide range of programs, services, and research, the Center seeks to assist all members of the Northwestern community in developing highly effective learning environments and experiences for their students, their colleagues, and themselves. Since its founding, the Center has substantially grown in breadth and reach, and its staff make meaningful contributions nationally and internationally to the literature on learning and teaching.
Career Development for Clinicians
The Academy for Quality and Safety Improvement (AQSI) is a seven-month professional development program designed to equip practicing healthcare professionals at Northwestern Medicine with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively lead quality improvement (QI) in interdisciplinary teams. Participants attend classroom sessions and complete a QI project in which they apply the principles and methods learned. AQSI accepts applications from interprofessional teams who each propose the QI project they will execute. To foster participants' learning and success in their projects, AQSI pairs each team with a clinical mentor, a performance improvement coach, and support in data acquisition and analysis.
The Office of Continuing Medical Education at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine promotes excellence in patient care and safety through accredited education activities based on up-to-date, clinically relevant, scientifically rigorous, evidence-based medical information.