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 28, 2022 to May 27, 2022.  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 may not be fully answered during the student’s tenure with the mentor, significant progress toward these goals is expected during the 13-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 13 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 13-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 three brief progress reports and evaluations (end of each Phase) that the mentor and student will need to complete. Mentors should review the student's reports and assess/confirm the progress. These reports are 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 either poster or oral format. Currently, while still under the influence of COVID-19, the FLEX Fair is scheduled to be virtual. The presentation should be 3-5 minutes in length and will be held on the final day of the FLEX Phase. This year, the FLEX Fair will take place on either May 26 or 27, 2022 (exact date TBD).

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