Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Treat of Retreat

Guest Bloggers:
Vanita Aroda, MD
Scientific Director of the MedStar Community Clinical Research Center

Jason Umans, MD, PhD
Scientific Director of Basic and Translational Science Laboratories at MHRI

Research Scholars Retreat - Wye River – google maps – that terrible bridge – new scholars –  will they be as good as their applications-or better?  –– will they be able to work as a group across research and clinical disciplines?---will we be able to constructively guide their next steps – do they have the ‘fire in their bellies’ to succeed as investigators? –-do we have the scientific depth to mentor colleagues outside of our own disciplines and interests – will the magic that we depend upon actually occur?---shoot, did I pack exercise shoes?  
So many thoughts during the hour + drive to the annual kickoff Teaching and Research Scholars retreat, welcoming the new cohort of Scholars into our paired academic career development programs. But what was hard to imagine during that drive was actually how it would all turn out -- for with the annual kick-off Research Scholars retreat, there is a required element of faith, that when the right intentions and substance come together, constructive clarity will emerge. And indeed, it did.

A day and a half of intensive constructive peer review and guidance to ensure research proposals had legs, career arcs had thematic integrity, resources were available to support initial steps, and feedback was incorporated to plan the year with sessions that would be of most practical benefit -- what a feeling of accomplishment! The most inspirational moments were those unpredictable, yet palpable, ‘aha’ fireworks moments, where fine tweaks, iterative review and feedback resulted in meaningful changes and clarified direction to research and career plans. Those are the moments that textbooks, formal curricula, and seminars don’t automatically create, but what in-person connection, mentorship, and dynamic discussions can spark. 

As one of the scholars shared, “You were right, when you said that tomorrow I would feel different than today. In just a day, I found myself thinking differently, with another perspective. I feel inspired!”   

We are privileged to help guide this remarkable new group of colleagues from across our system, Cynthia DeKlotz, M. Carter Denny, Suhasini Kaushal, and Deliya Wesley as they begin to develop independent, extramurally-funded research careers at MedStar Health.

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