The MEP has addressed the desired aims through several yearly intensive 1-week training institutes coupled with longer-term mentorship throughout the following years. The grant has covered travel expenses for the mentees and faculty, honoraria for the mentors, and administrative and conference costs. To attract suitable mentees from the region and, increasingly, across the country, we have disseminated information about the MEP widely by word of mouth and mailings from the program directors, national faculty, and mentees from UNM and elsewhere. We have selected new mentee cohorts based on nominations and the nominees’ statements of interest and intent. Ongoing evaluation of mentees’ needs and feedback inform planning for each institute. Fourteen mentees participate in each cohort; all have elected to remain in the program for 2 years, and several have remained on as junior mentors.
At each institute the faculty mentors, including several prominent, internationally recognized researchers, present pertinent current research concepts, methods, and findings. The contents of these sessions are planned based on the mentees’ stated needs and areas of research. Extensive program teaching manuals distributed to trainees include supplemental lecture notes, PowerPoint slide sets, and pertinent publications. For individual one-on-one mentoring with mentees, mentors have been assigned based on the congruence of their specific research expertise, interests, and background.
Training institutes have emphasized the following activities: a didactic curriculum including panel presentations, tutorial sessions, one-on-one mentoring, perspectives of the community advisory board, informal get-togethers, and peer support groups. Illustrative topics included in the didactic curriculum of the annual institute are outlined in .
Illustrative Didactic Curriculum of the Annual MEP Institutes
Tutorial sessions have provided mentees with opportunities to present their evolving research proposals for group discussion and specific supportive feedback from faculty and other mentees regarding research design, implementation, funding strategies, and career development.
By means of one-on-one mentoring sessions between mentors and mentees during the institute, mentees and mentors identify specific objectives for research and career development, areas where the mentor can provide advice and support, plans for meeting the mentees’ objectives, and strategies for accomplishing the ongoing mentorship process for the year. UNM-based mentors meet with local mentees frequently. External mentors have spoken regularly with mentees by phone and have met in person, as feasible. Mentors also make themselves available to help advocate their mentees in negotiations concerning key requirements for successful career development, including protected time for research, administrative support, and space.
The institutes prominently feature sessions provided by the program’s community advisory board
. Representing ethnic communities and advocacy organizations, panelists discuss the realities of research in minority and rural communities and highlight opportunities for community-based participatory research that actively involves local communities in research design, implementation, and follow-up. A major publication in a primary care journal has presented the perspectives of MEP community advisory board members (9
). Lessons learned here may result in easier entry to communities with major mental health disparities, including a reduction in time to establish trust (10
Informal get-togethers also take place. At dinners and parties, faculty members and mentees get to know one another, further promoting a sense of collegiality and group identity.
After the annual institute, each cohort of mentees holds regular conference calls as a mentee support group. This activity complements the mentorships by providing opportunities to address the challenges that junior minority faculty and graduate students face within academic institutions. The support group also counters the sense of isolation that academic positions often engender for young minority faculty.