Forty years ago, most biomedical PhDs became tenured professors however, the landscape has changed dramatically with a doubling of the number of PhDs awarded annually without a corresponding growth in faculty positions. Currently, less than 20% of biomedical PhDs obtain tenure track positions in academia and less than 15% find tenure track positions at research-intensive institutions. This is true nationally and at Duke. To help biomedical PhDs broaden their career paths, the NIH and Duke encourage trainees to investigate diverse career opportunities as graduate students. As part of this initiative, Duke requires biomedical trainees to complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP) and attend a Career Development Workshop in their third year. In addition, other programs and resources are available to increase career information and training.
Individual Development Plan (IDP)
In keeping with the NIH recommendation for creating IDPs for graduate students, the Office of Biomedical Graduate Education requires that all students who matriculated through PhD programs associated with the School of Medicine complete an Individual Development Plan. The IDP must be completed by June of their 3rd year. This requirement includes all students who entered through a biomedical program, independent of their source of funding . Individual programs may require additional or more frequent IDPs.
The nature of the IDP will be determined by each program for its students with the AAAS IDP used as a guide. Several programs such as the Medical Scientist Training Program have customized IDPs.
IDPs are confidential and need not be shared with the student’s thesis advisor, graduate program, or with the Office of Biomedical Graduate Education unless the student voluntarily decides to do so. They will not be submitted to NIH.
As part of the IDP, the student will be asked to meet and discuss the IDP with a faculty/administrative mentor, who may or may not be the thesis advisor. Students may choose more than one mentor. The degree to which information from the IDP is shared with mentor(s) is up to the student. To augment the IDP, a Career Development Workshop is required of all students in July of the 3rd year. Registration for the session requires that students 1) verify that they have completed an IDP; 2) provide the name(s) and dates of the advisor/mentor consulted in conjunction with the IDP; and 3) to indicate two or three career interests which will be explored during the workshop. The signed registration form validates that an IDP was completed. Completion of the workshop is recorded by the university registrar and is required for graduation.
Duke Scholars in Molecular Medicine
The Duke Scholars in Molecular Medicine Program is a 9 month program (September to May) in which PhD candidates and postdoctoral associates who are studying basic sciences gain hands on experience in clinical areas related to their field of research.
Career Development Workshop
A half day Career Development Workshop will be required of all third year graduate students who matriculated through a PhD program associated with the School of Medicine. Students will be asked to complete an Individual Development Plan in the spring semester prior to the course. The nature of the IDP will be determined by each program for its students with the AAAS IDP used as a guide. This is in keeping with the NIH recommendation for creating IDPs for graduate students. During registration for the session, students will be asked to 1) verify that they completed an IDP; 2) provide the name(s) of the advisor/mentor consulted in conjunction with the IDP; and 3) to indicate two or three career interests determined by their IDP.
The workshop will include an introductory talk that reviews national and Duke data for career outcomes for biomedical PhDs. This will be followed by two or three small breakout sessions (8-10 students) with panelists from academia, teaching, biotech, pharmaceutical industry, science writing/editing, regulatory affairs, clinical research/trials, research/academic administration, etc. Students will be sorted by career interests determined by IDPs in sessions appropriate for their interests. The session will end with lunch during which a speaker from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) will discuss the stresses associated with career decisions.
Tracking: The workshop will be combined with a half day Responsible Conduct of Research session. The event is tracked by the university registrar and recorded on the student’s transcript as a formal four-credit course (GS713). Students are required to submit an assessment before they receive credit. Cred for the event is recorded by the university registrar and tracked by the Graduate School as graduation requirement.
Preparing Future Faculty
The Duke Graduate School provides a yearlong experience for PhD students and postdocs to prepare them for the multiple roles they may be asked to assume as future faculty members in a variety of academic institutions.
Responsible Conduct of Research Training
Academic integrity and research ethics are fundamental to the practice of science. Duke has attempted to create a rigorous and relevant program for its students to train them in the highest standards for conducting research.
Graduate School Career Resources
News and events provided by the Duke Graduate School
University Career Center
The Career Center provides opportunities for individuals to explore the intersection of their education, values, goals, skills and experiences in order to identify and realize their aspirations.
Office of Postdoctoral Services
The Office of Postdoctoral Services is the central resource for postdoctoral appointees on campus, and serves as a liaison between postdocs, faculty, administrators, and staff.