MICHR’s Staff Enrichment Program (STEP.up) provides research staff with formal mentor training, a curriculum in leadership professionalism, and team science competencies that facilitate the development of mentoring skills.

On a recent survey, 88% of clinical research professionals (CRPs) requested more competency-based career development opportunities. Reflective of this need, CRPs self-organized in 2018 to initiate the STEP.up mentoring program. An Advisory Committee selected participants and made pairings, making matches across departments to preserve confidentiality.

Mentees set goals and met with their mentor monthly for nine months. MICHR worked with the CRPs to provide mentor training, project management support, and evaluation. A total of 33 mentor-mentee pairs have participated, with 100% remaining in research. Mentors felt the program improved their managerial skills, increased their confidence, and provided networking opportunities. Mentees reported improved career planning, professional advancement, networking, and communication skills.

”The STEP.up people did a fantastic job of matching our interests, so we had things outside of work we could talk about too. I got to learn a lot about clinical trials, an area where my knowledge was lacking. And, you know the old adage: do as I say, not as I do,” said Kathleen Ignatoski, STEP.up Mentor. “I put into practice some of the things that I was counseling Blake to do (most of the time before we talked about it), and it helped me tremendously.”

“I felt I was at a point in my career where further developing my curiosity and gaining confidence leading teams working on challenging projects working to answer novel questions could provide a tangible benefit to the teams I work with and the patients we serve. The STEP.up program helped me do just that,” said Blake Armstrong, Kathy’s Mentee. “STEP.up did a wonderful job matching mentors and mentees. Kathy and I worked in different roles in research, we were able to find common ground in our work and we shared many interests outside of work. I would highly recommend the STEP.up program for the excellent mentor-mentee matching, networking, gaining institutional knowledge, and developing practical skills to benefit your projects.”

Michigan Medicine’s Clinical Trials Support Office (CTSO) and the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR) subsequently partnered to provide financial and administrative support for the program, which compliments the many effective mentorship programs available that are offered by Michigan Medicine, U-M, professional associations, and scientific groups.

Learn more about MICHR’s mentoring programs, our many seminars and workshops, and the DIAMOND portal with extensive content covering seven of the eight Enhancing Clinical Research Professionals’ Training and Qualifications (ECRPTQ) competency domains.