NCS Mentorship Program
By Alexis Steinberg, MD
Many people seeking a career in neurocritical
care train in residencies and fellowships with
small faculties, or in programs with limited
research opportunities. While providing
excellent clinical training, no program
can mentor a trainee in all areas of our
multidisciplinary field. For example, trainees
interested in private practice would benefit
from interacting with successful private
practice neurointensivists, and others with an
interest in a research career may want to develop relationships
with independently funded scientists, but may not have access
to faculty with those backgrounds. In order to address this need,
the NCS Resident/Fellow Committee has started a new pilot
mentorship program to help residents, fellows and junior faculty
seek guidance from successful, established neurointensivists
within the NCS.
Previous mentorship programs have been difficult to sustain longterm.
To determine contributing factors, we conducted a survey
of attendings, fellows and residents to determine what factors
members thought may have contributed to prior failed attempts.
We had over 60 respondents. Many cited a lack of organization
of prior programs, lack of goals for the relationship, poor match
based on interest and difficulty in meeting/staying in contact.
With these issues in mind and the support of the Executive
Committee, we developed a more structured program that allowed
mentors and mentees to be paired based on common interests
with the goal of not only gaining career advice but also having the
opportunity to work on a longitudinal project together.
Ribal Bassil (PGY4 at University of Massachusetts) and Alexis
Steinberg (PGY3 at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) are
co-leaders for the project within the Resident/Fellow Committee.
For this pilot phase, we paired mentees and mentors from across
the country and internationally in order to help develop the
mentee’s career in neurocritical
care. Mentors are more
in the field of
and mentees are
or junior faculty.
collected this winter,
were paired based
on their similar
interests, with support
and feedback from Dr.
Nerissa Ko. A total of
10 pairs are participating
in the program, from a
wide variety of training
institutes (Table 1).
Mentors and mentees with different backgrounds and from
various geographical locations applied for the program. Dr.
Susanne Muehlschlegel (UMass) states that she volunteered to
be a mentor because “she thinks it is important to give back.”
Throughout her career, she had to seek out mentorship and
guidance outside of her own institution in order to develop her
research career. She wants to provide support to trainees and
junior attendings who may be at institutes that do not have expert
neurointensivists as mentors. One of her main goals is to help
mentees explore nontraditional venues of research funding and to
support research in niche fields within neurocritical care. Dr. Holly
Hinson (OHSU) feels that “mentorship is essential to creating the
next generation of skilled neurointensivists. I have been fortunate
to have had great mentors along the way, and I feel obligated
to give back. Our field is still young, but yet very complex and
not always easy to navigate without experience. I find this to be
especially true in clinical research.”
For the mentorship program, each pair is working on a
collaborative project of their choice, depending on their interests
and career goals. The pairs could choose from a wide variety of
different projects, including review articles, book chapters, grant
proposals, QI projects, curriculum or program development.
A diverse range of projects have been proposed so far. One
example includes “a systemic review dealing with predictors
of early clinical deterioration in traumatic brain injury”
by the mentorship pair Dr. Holly Hinson and Dr. Ameeta
Karmakar. Dr. Edilberto Amorim plans on submitting a K23
within the next year and his mentor, Dr. Michael Diringer,
will assist him with the application. His project will focus on
quantitative EEG monitoring in hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.
Dr. Susanne Muehschlegel and Dr. Carly Olm-Shipman plan to
work on a qualitative project assessing ways to improve team
communication within the neuro ICU.
Currently, each pair is at different stages of their project. Dr.
Holly Hinson (OHSU) comments on her experience so far:
“I was paired with a motivated resident who is in the midst
of applying for fellowship. It has been fun talking about her
interview experiences and hearing about her plans for the future.
We have enjoyed crafting a systematic review together. I have
done one previously, and our work together has solidified my
understanding of the techniques.”
The Resident/Fellow Committee is currently organizing events
to allow the pairs to meet in-person at conferences to help with
progress of their projects. Mentors and mentees will get the
opportunity to interact at the 2017 NCS annual conference. There
will be a formal event where pairs will have the opportunity to
meet and present their work. We hope that this new initiative
allows for more collaboration across institutes and provides
career guidance for aspiring junior members of the Neurocritical
Alexis Steinberg is PGY-3 neurology resident at the University of
Pittsburgh Medical Center. She is also very active member of the residents
and fellow section. Alexis is an invited guest writer for Currents.