Celeste Ewig is a pharmacist and lecturer at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She’s also an active member of PPAG and the first member to participate in the PPAG Research Mentoring Program. She began involvement in the program around the beginning of 2015. During the 2015 PPAG Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, she met with Chad Knoderer, her assigned mentor, to discuss research goals and how the program might work for her. Celeste and Chad communicate regularly via email and usually meet in person during the Annual Meeting, as they did in 2016 in Atlanta.
Both Celeste and Chad, as mentee and mentor, were asked to respond to two questions.
When you first expressed interest in the program, what were you hoping to achieve or learn?
CE: When I first learned about the Research Mentor program I was very excited. Excited and grateful. I thought it was such a good idea since I was just starting out and had always wanted to develop my research skills. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I first signed up. At the very least I thought the program would at least help me bounce off ideas with someone more experienced and sort through some of the details of conducting a project or a study. Although I had colleagues around me who were willing to help whenever I asked questions, they were not familiar with the pediatric population so they could only answer it from a general perspective. Having someone with the same professional area and a strong research background really helped with my understanding of how to take a study from carrying it out and all the way to the publication submission process.
The next thing I was hoping to learn was to improve my writing skills. The whole process of writing then submission of a manuscript was so daunting and intimidating for me to do on my own. I was hoping that with more focused guidance or even someone who would hold me accountable and keep me focused would be really helpful especially since work can sometimes take over and that paper you hoped to write and submit ends up in the back burner.
CK: I remember discussing the program within a research committee meeting at one of the annual meetings. I thought it sounded like a great opportunity for me to get more involved with the committee and to be able to network with other members. I had been lucky enough at that time to have participated in a number of different research projects and I learned from mentors. I wanted to pass that on.
Having participated in the program for a couple of years, how have you developed?
CE: I’ve learned so much even with just writing one manuscript and submitting it through the publication process. I realized that not only did I improve my research and writing skills but my knowledge base definitely grew. But the most important thing that I noticed was my confidence level grew. Chad made me take the first step and once I did, I just took the next step and the next step after that. It wasn’t as intimidating and daunting knowing that if I needed any help or had any questions I had someone who would help me figure things out and let me know that I’m on the right track.
CK: I hadn’t given my own development much thought when I volunteered to be a mentor, but I have developed in a different ways. My communication and teaching have developed through my interactions with Celeste. Most of our communication is via email since she is in Hong Kong and I’m in Indianapolis, so I really need to be efficient with my written communication. Reflecting on some of those earlier, I saw where my message needed to be revised for a better meaning to the end user. While this may sound obvious to many, I’ve rediscovered the benefits of using examples in teaching research. Talking about creating a database or responding to reviewer comments goes only so far. I’ve learned to use examples from my own research experiences (my databases, cover letters, or responses to reviewer comments) to support Celeste in reaching her own goals. It’s rewarding for me to see Celeste develop her research and writing skills.
The PPAG Research Committee has been focused on new practitioner’s mentorship and increasing collaborative research between our members. The Research Committee has identified senior investigators who have volunteered to be paired with a new researchers to help mentor them through the research process (e.g., idea refinement, research methodology, grant writing, manuscript preparation, and others).
The Research Committee continues to accept interest from members and hope to expand the program as more members express interest. If interested in participating, or just want more information, contact Chad Knoderer, Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jill Morgan, Chair-elect, (email@example.com) of the Research Committee.
For more information visit: https://www.ppag.org/?pg=ResearchMentoring