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In 2011, Dr. Arthur S. Levine, Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine accepted the recommendations of a faculty advisory committee to establish a standardized postdoctoral progress assessment process for the schools of the health sciences. In doing so, all faculty mentors and postdoctoral trainees in the schools of the health sciences are afforded a structured and high quality framework from which to assess their training relationships. According to a 2004 Sigma Xi national postdoctoral survey, standardized oversight of postdoctoral training was found to be associated with increased trainee satisfaction, increased number of postdoctoral publications per year, higher rating of faculty mentoring relationships, and decreased reported conflicts.¹

Effective October 2011, this Career Development and Progress Assessment Process is required for all postdoctoral associates and postdoctoral scholars appointed in the schools of the health sciences.

Predicated on the philosophy that a postdoctoral trainee is ultimately responsible for charting and managing the course of his or her own career, individual postdocs are responsible for managing the flow of communication and completing the major documents involved in this process. As is described in more detail in the guidelines below, faculty mentors are responsible for providing oversight and approving these documents. The Postdoctoral Progress Assessment is the one form that faculty mentors are responsible for completing on an annual basis.

Although this process is initially being introduced using writable-documents, a web-based format is in development. The Center for Postdoctoral Affairs in the Health Sciences, housed within the Office of Academic Career Development is administratively responsible for providing institutional support with regard to this process, maintaining centralized records, and monitoring compliance with policies and procedures.

 

For general questions or assistance, contact the Center for Postdoctoral Affairs in the Health Sciences at
                                                  postdoc@hs.pitt.edu or 412-648-8486.

For referrals or consultations with regard to specific postdoctoral personnel matters, contact:

                                                  Darlene Zellers, PhD, Director
                                                  
Tammy Dennis, Postdoctoral Affairs Coordinator

 

KEY FEATURES OF THIS ASSESSMENT PROCESS INCLUDE:

Postdoctoral Career Development Plan

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A Postdoctoral Career Development Plan identifies a postdoc’s long-term and short-term objectives that the faculty mentor and postdoctoral trainee have identified as important steps in the postdoc’s scientific and professional development. This annual plan, mutually agreed upon by both the faculty mentor and postdoc, serves as the benchmark from which the postdoc’s progress is assessed. This plan is required to be completed no later than 90 days after the initial postdoctoral appointment. An updated plan is required as a condition of reappointment. Upon the introduction of this process, postdocs with contracts in progress are to submit their initial Career Development Plans at the time of their reappointments.

Optional Research Independence Plan

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For those postdocs who intend to pursue academic careers, it is important for faculty mentors to engage in conversations with these postdocs, early in their training, regarding strategies for establishing the postdoc’s research independence. The Career Development Plan includes this option for trainees to shape a Research Independence Plan, in conjunction with their faculty mentor, articulating the goals and objectives that can lead to their own independent research program.

Postdoctoral Mentoring Team

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Trainees supported by training grants, or those who have successfully competed for independent funding, receive optimal training experiences by interacting with multiple mentors. Building upon this model, postdocs will consult with their primary faculty mentors to identify two additional individuals in addition to their primary faculty mentor to serve as members of their mentoring teams. Establishing postdoctoral mentoring teams will provide expanded networks of support for all postdocs in the schools of the health sciences. Depending upon postdoctoral career goals, mentoring teams may include faculty or professionals outside of the university.

Postdoctoral Self Assessment

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A Postdoctoral Self Assessment exercise provides a structure for postdocs to compare their annual accomplishments to the expectations set forth in their Career Development Plans. Once a postdoc completes and submits the self assessment form to his or her mentoring team, it provides a guide or tool for the primary mentor to evaluate the postdoc’s overall progress towards his or her career goals in combination with the faculty mentor’s own assessment of the postdoc’s progress.

Postdoctoral Progress Assessment

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A postdoctoral training experience is unique from a student, staff, or faculty appointment, and as such, warrants a distinct assessment process. Whereas traditional student or employment evaluations solely critique one’s performance, a postdoctoral training experience is also assessed by the degree of progress one makes towards his or her career goals. Therefore, this innovative Postdoctoral Progress Assessment instrument assesses core postdoctoral research competencies and performance factors as well as critiques a trainee’s progress towards his or her customized career goals as articulated in his or her Career Development Plan.


Faculty
View Guidelines Here

Postdocs
View Guidelines Here


[1]Doctor’s Without Orders: Highlights of the Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey, Special Supplement to the American Scientist, May-June, 2005.