The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Whether your primary focus is teaching, research, or patient care, being a faculty member at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is an honor and a challenge. Whether your career is in the early stages or is well established, being a successful faculty member requires specialized knowledge and skills. The faculty development program at M. D. Anderson provides faculty members with key information needed to help them move in the right direction.
Be willing to grow and venture and change yourself, learn from those around you. The date was November 9, 1998. The occasion was the first in a series of seminars designed to help junior faculty learn what they need to know to succeed in their careers. Continue to evolve yourself. You are not grown up when you're sixteen, you're not grown up when you're twenty-one, you're not grown up when you're forty, and you're not grown up when you're sixty. You're changing and if you ever stop changing you're missing, I think, one of the main points of life.
Called scientific excellence, the series' first session began with a heavy hitter, Dr. John Mendelsohn, and continued through seceding months with presentations by leading members of M. D. Anderson's faculty. It's through these mentoring relationships that the academic profession reproduces itself. I have a slide that money begets money. If you get a lot of small grants for 25 or 50 thousand dollars, all of the sudden you have a lot of money and it makes it easier to apply for bigger grants because on your.
Research the job itself. Just because you're applying for a job as an oncologist at such and such a hospital, try to find out what does that really mean? So protect your most productive time and use it for those things that you think are the most important. Four scientific excellence presentations a year have featured a wide range of topics, including sessions on grant writing, time management, goal setting, and network building. To be successful in academic research there are many, many skills that you have to master that are not covered in any class you'll ever take. Things like grants writings, scientific writings, scientific presentations, things that we didn't actually know that much about but were going to be critical to the success of our careers later on in the future.
The very success of these programs has been the result of the enthusiastic involvement of the faculty presenters who were willing to intersperse personal anecdotes with specific useable advice. Manage your time such that you can be creative. But I think one of the most important things is, that your family always knows that they are important to you, that they are significant, that they can come first. There's no question that focus is the simple, sole, most important thing for productivity. Even though you might be in a position and you don't see a role model that looks like you or does things like you do, take advantage of those people that can help you.
The topics that they've covered have been just perfectly relevant for me. When I first came as post doc, I had very little experience in presentations and writing papers. My whole experience was just in my graduate work which is pretty limited and so those types of seminars were exactly the kinds of things I needed to develop those skills. We all recognize that one of our most important assets at M. D. Anderson is our faculty, and to maintain our position as the number one cancer center in the world we need to make sure that our faculty have every opportunity to succeed in their careers, and the whole idea of this program is to try to give people the tools that they need to be successful in their careers.
If you have a really good mentor and they're watching out for you, they're making sure that you get access to really important resources. Even if you have a good mentor, they don't always have enough time to spend with you to develop your career which is why we've started to move the faculty development program forward. Scientific excellence is but one of several faculty development efforts in the past 2 years. As an example, twice a month the smaller and more informal lunch and learn series has been providing training for those who are interested in practical knowledge. Efforts have been ongoing to survey faculty about what they and their colleagues need to help them advance their careers.
There was actually a formal needs assessment done a couple of years ago to ask faculty members what would make your life better here? What would make your life easier here? What kinds of things can we help you learn? Who would you like to meet? And so it was on the basis of the responses to that survey that we developed this program. I think the faculty development offers excellent opportunities for young scientists who don't have a lot of experience in speaking and writing and there are opportunities presented for them to learn these skills from more senior faculty and other people with more experience in doing it.
I'm very impressed with many of the people associated with faculty development that actually listen to the faculty to try to understand what it is that younger faculty need and respond to that in terms of these programs. The faculty development program is playing a very important role here; not only for our trainees and junior faculty, but for the senior faculty as well. I think the needs change as one progresses career wise. I mentioned training and how to write a scientific publication for example, senior faculty maybe don't need that anymore but they are looking for perhaps some help in how to organize large laboratories, how to provide multidisciplinary programs, how to lead larger groups of people.
Just knowing that there's support. I mean that's one of the reasons why I'm going is to feel that support as an institution behind me and wanting me to do my best. Whether it's my first six months at the institution or my sixteenth year at the institution. Anything that the administration can do to support our faculty and let them focus their time and attention on doing medicine and on doing science and on creating new knowledge, than on creating ways to meet our mission of curing cancer is I think, time and money well spent and that's what our administration is about in terms of academic programs.
Faculty development, continuing to provide valuable skills and knowledge to help faculty at all levels succeed at M. D. Anderson. Our office exists to try to support faculty and to help them succeed in their own profession which helps us meet the mission at the institution.
©2008 The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
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