As the principal investigator of a clinical study, you can certainly learn by doing. But having a mentor will be beneficial in many ways. “This person will be instrumental in helping to guide you along the research process and develop attainable goals,” said Dr. Strychowsky. Mentors can also help you identify journals to target for publication of your manuscript.
Explore this issue:January 2015
Having a mentor can be akin to possessing an instruction manual. “The mentor has seen the pitfalls and roadblocks before and can help navigate and problem solve,” said Dr. Smith. “The world of research is filled with many obstacles that are not intuitive to the practicing clinician. A mentor can save countless hours for the novice investigator.”
When completing the application for the IRB, ask a colleague who has already gone through the drill for guidance, said Dr. St. John. Read your mentor’s application for some cues and ask him or her to review your proposal.
Multidisciplinary or multicenter collaborations can provide a wider breadth of expertise and support. Surround yourself with successful researcher mentors in your field, and collaborate with them.
“Just as it is important to have a mentor, as your career progresses, you should also be a mentor,” Dr. Strychowsky said. “Medical students and residents are often very keen to become involved in research projects. Consider this a great opportunity to teach and inspire future clinician researchers.”
Karen Appold is a medical writer based in Pennsylvania.