First Young Science In Transition theme meeting a success

Monday 7 January 2019 | Annemijn Algra, on behalf of Young SiT

Wednesday morning, Dec 12, 2018 – a diverse group of young biomedical scientists called ‘Young Science in Transition’ (YSiT) gathered for the first theme meeting about career pathways for physicians and scientists. It turned out to be an inspiring kickoff for YSiT, with a lot of enthusiasm to get started with initiatives to promote better science, with fewer numbers.

The morning was opened with a pitch from YSiT team ‘Career pathways and MD Residency’ (red: Lizet van der Waals, Coen Maas and myself: Annemijn Algra). Our idea is to develop a professional development portfolio for young scientists at the UMC Utrecht, to improve career development both in terms of transparency and professional diversity and to motivate young scientists to take the lead in their own career path.

Next up was professor Jaap Kappelle, a neurologist, scientist and educator at the UMC Utrecht. We talked with him about combining different professional roles. His key advice was to always stick with your passions, whether this is science or teaching, or caring for patients.

To learn from existing examples, we listened to presentations from Nadine Nonnekes and Farah Kools from the PATHWAY project and David Holwerda, founder of Reconcept. The PATHWAY project is an European collaboration that aims to bridge the gap between bench and bedside by improving career pathways for clinician-scientists. The project, started in 2017, works on several projects to empower clinician-scientists, such as the development of entrustable professional activities (EPAs) for scientists, mentorship programs and a professional development portfolio. Nadine and Farah explained that the portfolio they are setting up will primarily serve as a ‘mentoring tool’ to guide clinician-scientists on their career path.

Reconcept is a medical business that created an Online Career Portfolio and smartphone application for medical specialists. It is now routinely used by over 60 hospitals in the Netherlands, including more than 5700 specialists and 2500 specialists in training. David showed us how their application is designed to introduce short feedback moments in clinical practice and how its content is based on the concept of EPAs for doctors.

After these inspiring stories it was time for YSiT to get into action during a brainstorm session about our initiative. Before exploring the feasibility or content of a professional development portfolio, we shortly asked ourselves the question whether our idea really matches YSiT’s mission to make science better, with fewer numbers. Key motives for our project are increasing transparency in career development and promoting and rewarding professional diversity. In addition, we debated whether our idea is really ‘new’ and concluded that the fact that several large funding organisations, such as NWO, also have this topic (red: creating alternative selection procedures to measure scientific impact) high on their research agenda only makes our idea timely and relevant. Concerning the existence of other professional portfolios Coen summarized the pros and cons of existing metric systems such as Research Gate, Google Scholar, ICite and Pure and Lizet illustrated the different features of the PhD Competence Model, a self-reflection tool used by some Graduate Schools. Everybody agreed that there is room for improvement in the evaluation of PhD Students and postdoctoral researchers. Instead of filling out a paper form once a year (starting with the question how many articles you have published), it would be useful to have a tool that enables scientists to create easy and short feedback moments on different skills throughout the year. There was less consensus about the content of a scientist portfolio in terms of EPAs. We did however come up with several key words that can send us in the right direction when determining what should be the core professional activities and profiles of young scientists.

In conclusion, this YSiT theme session brought us plenty of food for thought and a lot of enthusiasm to carry on with our YSiT mission and our portfolio teamproject. We will keep you informed on the progress of our project on the SiT website and on twitter (@SciTransitYoung). Feel free to share any ideas or suggestions with us or join us in one of our next YSiT sessions.

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