Promoting Academic Talent in the Health Sciences (PATHS), a joint venture between the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC, is a professional development program designed to encourage diverse faculty success.
The PATHS program pairs residents, fellows, and junior faculty members with senior faculty mentors in order to facilitate the retention and upward progression of mentees into senior faculty positions at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC. Mentors serve as a guide and advocate for mentees through advising and identifying opportunities for advancement within the organization.
Through the development of a career mentoring relationship, mentors assist in the navigation of the academic environment and provide access to tools, experiences, connections, and a support system for the mentee.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Schools of the Health Sciences are nationally recognized for providing some of the best academic and professional training. However, a lapse exists in the retention of underrepresented individuals post-medical school and/or residency at the University of Pittsburgh.
A Quality Improvement Report issued by the UPMC Physician Services Division revealed that there were several barriers commonly perceived by underrepresented residents and faculty in the UPMC/University of Pittsburgh academic medical center. Many of these barriers included a lack of mentorship and a low presence of role models within the departments.
Given the relative dearth of well-placed and visible African-American or Latino role models, it is crucial that trainees and junior faculty be retained and groomed for successful transitions into leadership roles. PATHS is an attempt to alleviate these barriers through the introduction of a formal mentoring program.
At the beginning of the program, all mentors attend workshop as a component of training for education on effective mentorship. Additionally, this workshop serves as a time to inform mentors of program guidelines, expectations, and targeted outcomes. Throughout the program, mentors also have the opportunity to join a peer network for information sharing and ongoing support. Also, mentors are continuously informed of internal and external opportunities for mentor-competency training.
Mentees should expect involvement not only in a one-on-one partnership with their mentors, but also in peer mentoring circles comprised of 4-6 mentees. Various events provide opportunities for mentees to interact with their mentor and within their peer mentoring circle. Additionally, mentees receive ongoing career coaching that is still within the profession yet external to the organization, which complements mentor advice and allows for confidentiality.
Program training is conducted by nationally renowned experts in mentorship, Dr. Audrey Murrell (Associate Professor of Business Administration, Psychology, Public and International Affairs, Katz Graduate School of Business) and Dr. Joan Lakoski (Associate Vice Chancellor for Science Education Outreach).
Workshop Slides and Handouts
- Conflict Management - Dr. Audrey Murrell
- Building Your Academic Career Plan - Dr. Jennifer Woodward
- Maximizing Faculty Performance Appraisals Drs. Anna Roman & Anne Thompson
Currently, the PATHS program, which is managing its second cohort, is open to prospective mentors and mentees at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine in all departments. With programmatic success, PATHS will be expanded to all six schools in the Health Sciences.
Become a Mentor
First and foremost, potential mentors must possess both the desire and necessary time for involvement in the program. The opportunity is available for all faculty members, regardless of membership in an underrepresented group. Additionally, mentors must possess knowledge of both the formal and informal organizational structure necessary to assist a mentee in advancement.
Become a Mentee
The opportunity to become a mentee is available for all residents, fellows, and junior faculty who possess a strong desire and the time necessary for involvement in the program. Prospective mentees must also get approval from their Department Chair.
The PATHS program consists of formal training workshops and career development workshops, along with formal and informal gatherings.
The PATHS Steering Committee makes the mentor-mentee pairings based on personal and professional interests. However, mentees are given an opportunity to request a particular faculty member from the list of available mentors.
Mentors and mentees meet a minimum of two times per semester. In the interest of other commitments, meetings are generally held during lunch time or in the early evening. Additionally, a support person will conduct “check-ups” every six months to assess progress, time commitment, frequency of interactions, outcomes, and satisfaction.
The key component of the PATHS pilot program will be an evaluation of the experience, which will carried out at the end of the program year by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. The evaluation will be conducted using various criteria in order to determine the efficacy of the program, including interviews with mentees and calculation of retention and promotion rates. Additionally, experiences and progress of dyads containing one or two underrepresented members versus those with two majority members will be evaluated.