A cross-institutional analysis of the effects of broadening trainee professional development on research productivity

Patrick D. Brandt, Susi Sturzenegger Varvayanis, Tracey Baas, Amanda F. Bolgioni, Janet Alder, Kimberly A. Petrie, Isabel Dominguez, Abigail M. Brown, C. Abigail Stayart, Harinder Singh, Audra Van Wart, Christine S. Chow, Ambika Mathur, Barbara M. Schreiber, David A. Fruman, Brent Bowden, Christopher A. Wiesen, Yvonne M. Golightly, Chris E. Holmquist, Daniel ArnemanJoshua D. Hall, Linda E. Hyman, Kathleen L. Gould, Roger Chalkley, Patrick J. Brennwald, Rebekah L. Layton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


PhD-trained scientists are essential contributors to the workforce in diverse employment sectors that include academia, industry, government, and nonprofit organizations. Hence, best practices for training the future biomedical workforce are of national concern. Complementing coursework and laboratory research training, many institutions now offer professional training that enables career exploration and develops a broad set of skills critical to various career paths. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded academic institutions to design innovative programming to enable this professional development through a mechanism known as Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST). Programming at the NIH BEST awardee institutions included career panels, skill-building workshops, job search workshops, site visits, and internships. Because doctoral training is lengthy and requires focused attention on dissertation research, an initial concern was that students participating in additional complementary training activities might exhibit an increased time to degree or diminished research productivity. Metrics were analyzed from 10 NIH BEST awardee institutions to address this concern, using time to degree and publication records as measures of efficiency and productivity. Comparing doctoral students who participated to those who did not, results revealed that across these diverse academic institutions, there were no differences in time to degree or manuscript output. Our findings support the policy that doctoral students should participate in career and professional development opportunities that are intended to prepare them for a variety of diverse and important careers in the workforce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3000956
JournalPLoS biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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