Dr. Bixby is a Fellow in the Division of Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. He is a member of the ASH Trainee Council.
Training to become an effective clinician and researcher in hematology has become an extremely lengthy and complex activity. Currently, 1,348 Associate members of ASH include physicians enrolled in programs leading to certification in multiple hematology-related clinical disciplines as well as non-physicians enrolled in pre- and post-doctoral research training programs. One goal of the ASH Trainee Council is to assist this increasingly diverse set of trainees in navigating through the complex pathways of their career development by defining and tracking specific milestones. The Council has recently completed an extensive enhancement of Web-based resources for this purpose on the ASH Web site, under Career Planning. This updated section can be used by clinical and non-clinical trainees and their mentors to plan their specific educational objectives and to mark important milestones in their progression through training.
A “Career Timeline for MD Trainees” aids fellows by breaking down their education and research objectives according to the clinical year of training. “Continuous priorities” (those relevant throughout the training period) such as frequent mentoring meetings and participation in research and writing opportunities, are detailed. First-year priorities, including identifying a research mentor and outlining and refining research opportunities, are subsequently outlined. The second-year objectives focus on initiating research opportunities and identifying possible grant prospects, including the ASH Research Training Award for Fellows. The third-year page focuses on continuing research and the need to prepare an objective review of the fellow’s clinical and research activities, which will allow for expedited applications and interviews for employment opportunities. Embedded links, such as the ASH Job Bank, allow visitors to easily access a number of internal and external resources, many of which have been developed by the Trainee Council.
The “Career Timeline for PhD Students” was developed to assist the growing number of PhD graduate students who participate in ASH activities. This tool is organized around the three “classical” phases of training revolving around the qualifying exam. On the pre-examination page, numerous suggestions are made regarding course work and identifying the optimal mentor — the most important part of a student’s career. Links to critical questions that trainees need to ask of possible mentors and additional suggestions for screening prospective research laboratory prospects are provided. Near the time of the qualifying examination, PhD candidates should also be actively focusing on conducting research and identifying collaborations that will extend their reach well beyond the confines of their primary laboratory. Suggestions are made to prepare students for their exam and to enhance their research experience. Finally, after successful completion of the qualifying exam, trainees can focus on enhancing and finalizing their thesis research project, publishing their results, and beginning the hunt for post-doctoral positions while writing their dissertations. A number of links, including a direct link to the ASH Grants Clearinghouse, which allows direct access to information on more than 80 awards for both clinical and non-clinical trainees, provides helpful advice and recommendations for optimal career development.
Hematology practice and research are becoming increasingly multi-disciplinary in nature, and training programs have necessarily become ever more complex. The new ASH Career Timelines attempt to detail critical milestones that trainees should concentrate on during their academic careers. We have highlighted important events and opportunities during each cycle of the training, so that both clinical and basic science students can plan for and succeed in their chosen field. The ASH Trainee Council has created these Web pages for the trainee, but encourages both students and those who mentor them to visit the site when constructing a training roadmap. By preparing for and maintaining a steady progression throughout training, today doesn’t have to be the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.