To further prepare the FORWARD scholars to assume future leadership positions within the society, they’ve begun “internships” that included shadowing AGA committee meetings during Digestive Disease Week (DDW®) 2019 in San Diego and participating in networking events with AGA leaders at receptions and various events.
Mentoring and coaching
In addition to leadership development training at the conference, each FORWARD scholar identified a research topic that they would work on with their mentor and a grant-writing expert to develop into a full grant proposal by the conclusion of the program. The FORWARD mentors have committed to provide mentoring that addresses scientific research content as well as career guidance. The active mentoring provided to the FORWARD scholars is extensive and includes regular contact with their mentors as well as one-on-one executive coaching by a professional coach committed to learning about their needs and guiding them through an individual development plan.
To facilitate the coaching for their individual development plan, each FORWARD scholar completed a Self-Assessment for Physician Leaders and a 360° assessment, which informed the executive coaching that the scholars receive. For many of the scholars, this is the first time that they have benefited from individual executive coaching.
Academic research skills development
In addition to leadership development training and networking opportunities along with executive coaching and mentoring, the FORWARD scholars benefit from direct evaluation and consultation on grant writing. FORWARD scholars have access to a private learning management system where they participate in online grant-writing skills training designed by a grant-writing expert. Based on their training, they are developing various segments of an actual grant proposal and are receiving both virtual peer critiques as well as individualized critiques and guidance from the grant-writing consultant, their program mentor, and their home institution mentor. Future training modules will include lab management and manuscript writing.
Jesus Rivera-Nieves, MD, FORWARD coinvestigator, stated, “I have had the honor of monitoring the progress of our first class of scholars recently. I am incredibly proud of the caliber of these early-career professionals and have no doubt that they will emerge as leaders in our field, where more diversity is greatly needed.”
The scholars and their mentors will reconvene at DDW® 2020 for an opportunity to give a presentation and participate in a commencement ceremony concluding their involvement in the program. Following the graduation of this first cohort, there will be a period of evaluation prior to recruitment of the second cohort of FORWARD scholars.
The 2018-2020 FORWARD Cohort includes:
Yelina Alvarez, MD, PhD
Dominique Bailey, MD
Veroushka Ballester, MD, MSc
Oriana M. Damas, MD
Patricia D. Jones, MD, MSCR
Folasade (Fola) May, MD, PhD, MPhil
Antonio Mendoza Ladd, MD, FACG, FASGE
Akinbowale Oyalowo, MD
Eric J. Vargas, MD