Traditionally, PhD and postdoctoral scientists perform research under the direct mentorship of faculty advisors and are encouraged toward tenure-track research, research or teaching positions in academia, or research in industry. Without formal preparation for other diverse careers, scientists have obtained positions in other biomedical careers in an indirect manner with little career-specific training or support.

Instead BEST programs prepare graduate and postdoctoral scientists for a range of careers. Common BEST programmatic themes, such as experiential learning (e.g., internships and externships) and professional development (e.g., team building and management) will directly guide PhD and postdoctoral scientists to many career possibilities, such as administration, law, industry/biotechnology, science policy/communication, government and other science careers, which are viewed as equal, successful and well-suited career outcomes. These career options can be pursued during any stage of training from the early years of graduate school to late into a postdoctoral fellowship.

Adapted from Meyers, et al. FASEB J, under revision (2015)

Adapted from Meyers, et al. FASEB J, under revision (2015)

The guides in this section outline the best ways to assist your PhD and postdoctoral scientists in their career development and how to strengthen your institution’s program.

Why Your University Needs a Strong Biomed Career Development Program

At the 2015 NIH BEST Annual Meeting, consortium members made a list of the top 13 reasons why all biomediPh.D. PhD granting institutions need strong career development programs. Use this list to enlist support for your program or for motivation to keep working for your students and postdoctoral scholars.

13. Important recruitment tool for new students
12. Important alumni engagement tool
11. Important tool for expanding diversity efforts
10. Provides leadership and guidance to all other graduate programs, increasing efficiency and reducing redundancies
9. Prepares students and postdoctoral researchers for satisfying careers
8. Opportunity for stronger academy-industry engagement
7. Attracts development money
6. Helps secure and retain grants
5. Happy students are productive students and vice versa
4. Provides a mechanism for gathering hard data on career development
3. Can lead to enhanced interdisciplinary collaborations
2. Helps the institution contribute to a scientifically literate workforce
1. We have a moral obligation to help students and postdoctoral researchers find work