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Regards to all our listeners!
I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
A new coalition of universities and research institutions will reveal the career and academic progress outcomes for life sciences students for the first time, as described in a recent policy forum published in Science.
The leaders of ten major universities and research institutions, who co-authored the article, agree to report an array of information about how life science students fare before and after graduation.
More specifically, the ten coalition leaders suggest they will collect and report:
- Admissions and matriculation data of life sciences doctoral students
- The median time to complete a degree in life sciences
- The demographics of doctoral and post-doctoral students in life sciences by gender, minority status, and nationality
- The median time post-doctoral life science students spend employed on a campus or institution
- The career outcomes for doctoral and post-doctoral alumni, classified by job sector and career type.
Of course, the surprise here is the announcement reveals this type of information has not been collected routinely in the past, and has not been available to prospective students, employers, and the public. In contrast, the aforementioned data is required to be collected and disclosed as a condition of accreditation within some professional schools, such as mass communication, in universities across the U.S.
While avoiding retrospective issues, the authors write (and we quote): 'Public data on Ph.D. programs, training periods, and career outcomes will enable prospective Ph.D. students and trainees to make better decisions about their training and careers at a much earlier point than at present' (end of quote).
In addition, the authors write (and we quote): 'open data will facilitate more responsible system stewardship.... These data will, we predict, encourage institutions to make evidence-based reforms that enhance the effectiveness of training programs, in areas such as curricula, career development programming, and faculty mentoring' (end of quote).
The authors note the new, comparative data should reveal low student graduation rates, long training periods, and poor placement records.
The authors additionally invite other institutions to join them, so the pool of future information could be more generalizable. Incidentally, the coalition's ten participants are: the University of Wisconsin-Madison; the University of Maryland-Baltimore; the University of Pennsylvania; the University of California-San Francisco; the University of Michigan; MIT; Duke; Cornell; Johns Hopkins; and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Otherwise, the term 'life sciences' is often defined as the study of living organisms among humans, animals, plants, and microorganisms. Besides medical schools, then, new career information might be available in a wide array of disciplines such as: biochemistry; bioinformatics; botany; cell biology; entomology; molecular biology; marine biology; toxicology, and zoology. In short, the commitment announced in Science impacts an array of disciplines within universities and research institutions.
Our kudos to the initial coalition for their interest in transparency, and accountability to students, employers, and the public. We hope many other institutions will join the early adopters.
Meanwhile, an array of information about diverse health occupations (from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics) is available in the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's health occupations health topic page.
Links to information about an array of specific disciplines is available within the 'specifics' section of MedlinePlus.gov's health occupations health topic page.
MedlinePlus.gov's health occupations health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's health occupations health topic page, please type 'health occupations' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'health occupations (National Library of Medicine).'
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It was nice to be with you. Please join us here next week and here's to your health!