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By Katie Stinson
Starting in 2014, the National Research Mentoring Network’s (NRMN) mission has been to diversify the biomedical science and research workforce. In that time, the NRMN has evolved to focus on diversifying the workforce, while also developing a new, diverse group of mentors. The National Research Mentoring Network refers to this as the “mentoring life cycle.”
The mentoring life cycle starts when a mentee registers for NRMN so they can participate in one or both of the NRMN virtual communities: MyMentor and MyNRMN. MyMentor is a one-on-one guided virtual mentoring platform. In this space, a matching algorithm pairs a mentee with their ideal mentor and then enters them into an extended mentoring connection, facilitated by guided discussion prompts along the way. The MyNRMN platform allows mentees and mentors to connect in a virtual space where they can chat, message, hold virtual meetings, join groups, or just share their thoughts with the community as a whole.
Each of these virtual communities promotes the mentoring life cycle through unique, yet complementary methods. In MyNRMN, mentees and mentors alike are encouraged to create and expand their network throughout the United States. They can join groups of like-minded individuals, share and collaborate on their current work, and design a resume online that generates a unique url and is downloadable as a PDF. MyNRMN helps mentees connect, allowing them to encourage each other as they move forward in their career and education pathways. The new “Ask a Mentor” feature enables mentees to post their questions to the broad audience of mentors, allowing multiple people to respond and provide their input.
The mentoring life cycle continues in a “dual-role” capacity in the MyMentor platform, where users act as both mentor and mentee. While anybody can request the dual-role functionality, NRMN finds that it is especially beneficial for users in transition stages. For example, a graduating undergraduate senior can act as both a mentor to undergraduate underclassmen and as a mentee of someone who is a graduate student and/or professional.
The mentoring life cycle sustains itself through the remarkable dedication by mentors and mentees to support the next generation of scientists. Participants in the NRMN network have expressed a desire to give back and help those around them through mentoring. By continuing to add features and opportunities for participants to advance their education and career goals, the NRMN nurtures a vibrant mentoring community.
The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.