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What is diversity?

Dictionary definitions of diversity refer to difference, variation, and assortment. The term is used at CWRU School of Medicine and across CWRU to encompass culture, race (without addressing here whether that is a viable concept), ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, age, pedagogy, ability, and political affiliation. The CWRU School of Medicine uses the term to also encompass individuals who are underrepresented in medicine, e.g., individuals from rural, relatively isolated geographic areas.

What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

Diversity refers to variation and differentness; inclusion, refers to feeling a sense of being welcomed and to creating a welcoming climate. Diversity can be increased by increasing the numbers of students, faculty, and/or staff who self-identify as members of underrepresented subgroups. An increase in numbers alone does not bring about inclusion. Rather, concerted efforts are required to ensure that regardless of one’s self-identity or attributed identity, all individuals are welcomed and nurtured as members of the CWRU School of Medicine community.   

What steps has the medical school taken to enhance diversity and inclusion?

The leadership, faculty, staff, and student body of the School of Medicine are continuously engaged in promoting diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion-related activities and initiatives during the last three years include:

  • Development and implementation of Continuing Research Education Credit (CREC) course, “Diversity in Research” in collaboration with the CWRU Office of Research and Technology Management and the Office for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity;
  • In collaboration with the LGBT Center of CWRU, the development of Safe Zone Professional, a program designed to provide health care professionals and researchers with the tools to more sensitively relate to patients, research participants, students, and colleagues;
  • Increased diversification of faculty search committees and sources of faculty recruitment;
  • Development and initial implementation steps of a School of Medicine Diversity Strategic Action Plan;
  • Formation of a Diversity Advisory Committee to aid in the implementation of the School of Medicine Diversity Strategic Action Plan;
  • Ongoing review and revision of the medical school curriculum to enhance cultural sensitivity, awareness, and responsiveness;
  • Promotion of student-sponsored diversity-related events, such as the Speed Mentoring Night for LGBTA students and faculty;
  • Continuation of School of Medicine’s existing pipeline programs for minority high school students.

What diversity-related resources exist at CWRU?

There is no centralized listing of diversity-related resources at CWRU or the School of Medicine at the present time. The following offices serve as resources for questions and programming:

What is mentoring?

Mentoring has traditionally been viewed as a dyadic relationship between someone who is senior with greater expertise and a more junior colleague, who learns from his or her senior counterpart. Our understanding of mentoring has evolved and it is now recognized that mentoring can take many forms. These include:

  • Multiple mentoring, in which the mentee may have a committee of mentors;
  • Peer mentoring, through which individuals at approximately the same stage in their careers make a committed effort to mentor each other; and
  • Distance mentoring, which involves long distance mentoring between the mentee and his or her mentor(s).

Additionally, we now understand that both the mentee and the mentor(s) learn from each other.

Why is mentoring important?

Research conducted both in academic medical centers and in business indicates that individuals are more likely to advance along their desired career trajectories if they have the benefit of mentoring. Effective mentoring has been found to be associated with increased earning potential, greater career satisfaction, increased productivity, and an upwards career trajectory.

What do mentors do?

The functions of a mentor can be grouped into three broad categories:

  1. the provision of vocational support to enhance the career of the mentee, e.g. sponsorship, visibility, protection of time or status, and career-related opportunities;
  2. the furnishing of support on a personal level through the provision of encouragement and counseling and the development of friendship, and
  3. service as a role model for the mentee.

Vocational support may include providing the mentee with training in the methodological and/or substantive aspects of a particular discipline, providing guidance in the mentee’s preparation of professional presentations and manuscripts, offering suggestions about how to best progress along a career trajectory, e.g., promotion, tenure, career transitions and moves. Mentoring in teaching can take several forms including mentor observation of the mentee in actual teaching situations and the provision to the mentee of feedback from these observations; mentor review with the mentee of student evaluations of the teaching; and/or mentee co-teaching with a more experienced and knowledgeable teaching mentor.

On a personal level, the mentor may also provide guidance to help the faculty mentee achieve an acceptable work-life balance or integration or develop a professional network. However, it is unlikely that one mentor can usually fulfill all functions.

How do I select a mentor or mentors?

Because of the ever-increasing complexity and interdisciplinary nature of science, and the challenges of navigating the academic medical center environment, we suggest that individuals have more than one mentor. The relationship with a mentor can be for a defined time and purpose, such as providing guidance in the preparation of a manuscript, or can be less structured and of a longer duration. Various factors should be considered when choosing mentors, including:

  • The discipline and research and/or career focus of the mentee and the mentor; is there synergy?
  • Whether the prospective mentor has adequate time to devote to the mentee for the purpose indicated;
  • Whether the proposed mentor will foster the individual’s professional growth, success, and independence;
  • The extent of the mentor’s experience with the intended focus of the mentoring, e.g., success rate with grant applications, manuscript submissions, navigating academic medical center challenges; and
  • Whether the mentor and mentee have compatible work styles, values, and personalities.

What are the responsibilities of mentees?

Mentoring is not a static process and the roles and responsibilities of the mentor and mentee may change over time. An effective mentor-mentee relationship almost always requires that the mentee take the lead for the initiation of the relationship. The mentee is responsible for his or her own self-assessment of strengths, weaknesses, and goals; this can provide the basis for the development of a career development plan, described below. The mentee should also be prepared to maintain open communication with his or her mentor, specify his or her priorities and goals, and adhere to agreed-upon mechanisms for communication and deadlines for the accomplishment of work.

What are the responsibilities of mentors?

Depending upon the stated purpose of the mentoring and the proposed duration of the mentoring relationship, a mentor may do one or more of the following:

  • Establish behavioral expectations for the mentor-mentee relationship;
  • Assist the mentee in establishing priorities;
  • Assist the mentee in his or her development of a relevant knowledge base;
  • Assist the mentee in socialization into the profession and the development of broader professional network;
  • Maintain open communication with the mentee;
  • Engage in active listening;
  • Develop a schedule of meetings in collaboration with the mentee.

What are the missteps that a mentee should avoid in a mentoring relationship?

Common complaints from mentors include:

  • Mentee unreliability;
  • An assumption by the mentee that he or she has the authority to speak for the mentor;
  • Efforts by the mentee to undermine the mentor;
  • Mentee misappropriation or use of data;
  • Mentee efforts to play mentors off against each other.

What is the difference between a mentor and a sponsor?

A sponsor, or career sponsor, assists the individual in developing a professional network, identifying and enhancing potential career opportunities, and heightening the individual’s career visibility. In the context of an academic medical center, this role is most frequently assumed by more senior faculty members who have a national and/or international reputation in their field(s). Examples of what a sponsor might do include introducing the more junior faculty member to key individuals in the field, recommending the individual for service on a NIH study section or an editorial board, or passing the individual’s name on to the program committee of a national or international conference.

Introductions to key individuals in the field may be of critical importance when it comes time to apply for promotion and/or tenure. These individuals may become acquainted with the faculty member’s work, whether it is in teaching, research or service, and may be willing to serve as a referee in evaluating the faculty candidate’s credentials for promotion or tenure.

Mentoring takes a lot of time. Why would someone agree to serve as a mentor?

Research has identified three primary incentives that motivate individuals to agree to mentor others: for the purpose of self-enhancement, for the benefit of others, and for intrinsic satisfaction.

What is a career development plan?

A career development plan (CDP, also known as an individual development plan, or IDP) is developed by a faculty member, either by him- or herself, or in consultation with mentors and/or the division chief or department chair. The CDP can take any of multiple forms. In general, it should address the following elements for the upcoming two to five year period:

  • Career objectives;
  • Educational experiences, e.g., any research activities/projects that will support efforts to meet the indicated objectives;
  • Products: e.g., degrees, publications, presentations, grants;
  • Timeline: a two-year to five-year timeline that displays the individual objectives, educational activities, research activities and products.

The CDP is a modifiable document and plan and can be revisited and revised as needed, as more information becomes available and as the individual’s environment changes, e.g. increased number of students to be taught, award of a grant, etc.

The current FASF provides for faculty to include a five-year CDP to assist the faculty member in setting goals and objectives, establishing a tentative timeline, delineating what may be needed in order to achieve the listed objectives, and facilitating a conversation about the goals and objectives with the respective department chair or division chief.

Why do I need a career development plan?

Research suggests that career development plans help individuals to:

  • identify aspirations, interests, strengths and development opportunities;
  • set realistic expectations for career growth over the short-, medium-, and long-term;
  • develop and implement a plan;
  • develop a timeline for the accomplishment of those goals, together with benchmarks;
  • engage in a self-evaluation of their own progress.

How is my career progress evaluated?

At CWRU School of Medicine, department chairs are required to evaluate each faculty member at least once each year. In some departments, the chair may delegate this function to a division chief, particularly if it is a large department. Faculty activity summary forms (FASFs) are to be completed by the end of January of each year and provide the starting point for the chair’s/division chief’s review of faculty performance. There should be a face-to-face meeting between the faculty member being evaluated and the department chair/division chief conducting the evaluation. The meeting can be used to review the past year’s performance, the faculty member’s goals and objectives for the upcoming year(s), and any salary-related issues.

Additionally, faculty members who hold an appointment on the tenure track are to have their progress reviewed by their department-level Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure (DCAPT) during their third and sixth pre-tenure years. According to the School of Medicine bylaws, the department CAPT also must review each full-time assistant and associate professor in the non-tenure track concerning readiness for promotion no later than six years after appointment or promotion to their rank and at least every six years thereafter.   

What do I do if I haven’t received an evaluation from my department chair or division chief?

The evaluation should ideally be completed no later than March 31 of the same year in which the FASF is submitted.

If a faculty member has not received his or her evaluation and has submitted the FASF, the initial step should be an e-mail to the department chair or division chief, reminding them of the need for the evaluation. It is possible that they may have forgotten, or thought that it had been done, or they may have done it but failed to put their comments in the electronic system. If the faculty member still does not receive an evaluation, he or she may wish to proactively arrange a meeting with the department chair or division chief to discuss the FASF. If that, too, should fail, the next step in the process would be to contact either Dan Anker or Nicole Deming in the School of Medicine Office of Faculty Affairs and Human Resources.