Mentor Role in FLEX Phase

The overall goal of the FLEX Phase is to provide the student with a rich, engaging research or scholarly experience provided through a mentored relationship with a faculty member in either the clinical or basic sciences. The FLEX experience runs from February 19, 2024 to April 12, 2024 (8 weeks).  A successful experience is one that is rewarding to both the student and the mentor with, as one desired outcome, progress toward a publication co-authored with the student.

The mentor guides the student in creating a hypothesis-driven question(s) with defined goals and specific aims. While the question will likely not be fully answered during the student’s tenure with the mentor, significant progress toward these goals is expected during the 8-week time frame of the FLEX Phase. The overall hypothesis and aims of the project should be defined prior to the student joining mentor's group (and likely will be modified as the project continues). The research or scholarly question may be novel for the mentor’s area of focus or it may be that the student becomes involved in an ongoing project. In some respects, the latter is desirable because progress toward publication of the scholarly work can occur in a reasonable time frame considering the FLEX Phase is only 8 weeks in duration.

The mentor and the student should collaborate in describing the question, hypothesis and aims and submit this information in the appropriate location in the College of Medicine FLEX Pathways course website using the REDCap link provided to the student.

There are a few mandatory activities related to the students preparation for clerkship scheduled during the FLEX Phase.  Outside of these activities, the student’s participation in the FLEX Phase project is considered a full-time experience and therefore, a 40-hour per week is expected (minus the mandatory activities), with an additional 5 hours per week dedicated to FLEX curriculum and service learning activities. The exact schedule and hours per day will be determined by the mentor and is often guided by the project. Some projects will require a greater time investment by the student, which may include “off” hours (evenings, weekends, holidays, etc.). Indeed, this is the very nature of these types of projects.

Frequent meetings between the mentor and student throughout the 8-week FLEX Phase are very important and strongly encouraged. This provides the necessary guidance the student needs to make continuous progress and have a successful FLEX experience.  Importantly, it offers the opportunity to provide the student with feedback on their scientific and intellectual progress.  For basic science projects, these meetings could be in the form of weekly one-on-one sessions and/or participation in scheduled lab meetings with the entire lab. For clinical sciences projects or other scholarly projects, it may be in the clinical space, or other one-on-one options.

As documentation of the student’s progress, there will be two brief progress reports and evaluations (end of each one-month Phase) that the mentor and student will need to complete. Mentors should review, assess, and confirm the student's progress with the student. This feedback is meant to help the student stay on track during the course of the project.  While the mentor is encouraged to provide verbal feedback to the student during the experience, the mentor will also be given the opportunity to provide narrative feedback to the student through standard COM evaluations mechanisms. In this same evaluation, the mentor will provide a satisfactory/unsatisfactory designation by selecting "Pass" or "No Pass" for the student.

At the culmination of the final FLEX Phase, there will be a Dean’s FLEX Fair and each student across all four tracks (Research, Global Heath, Health Humanities, and Physician as Teacher) will present their research or scholarly work in a poster format. It is hoped that the mentor or the mentor's department will be able to pay for the cost of printing the poster. This is generally between $50-70 for a 4 ft wide x 3 ft tall poster. The presentation should be 5-8 minutes in length and will be held on the final day of the FLEX Phase. This academic year, the FLEX Fair will take place on Friday, April 12, 2024 in the Harper Center Gym.

Please contact Dr. Steven Kubalak if you have any questions.