For Mentors: FAQs

As in the past, each student must be associated with a specific project and mentor for the duration of the Summer Research Program.

Applications for position and funded projects must be submitted and reviewed by the Associate Dean for Medical Research prior to approval and appointment.

How do I find a student or promote my project?

Since our office cannot keep track of the thousands of projects happening across campus, we are working on a posting system for mentors actively recruiting medical students. We also have a Facebook page where postings emailed to us will go. If you have an opportunity you would like us to communicate to the students about a project at any time in the year, please complete this project description form and return it to our office.

Mentors have also found success in reaching out the student interest groups to increase awareness of their projects.

We direct students to the Department Research pages as well as the UT Faculty pages to help find mentors that fit their research interests. Make sure these two places on the website are updated with your most accurate information.

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What paperwork does each student and mentor need to complete?

After a student has selected their mentor, a “Letter of Intent,” posted on the Summer Research Program page, will need to be completed by February 15. We use this as the contract that signals the student understands what the mentor expects of them before the Summer Research Program starts. It also gives the pairing a month to create a research plan for their summer project, due March 1 with the completed application. The application consists of the project proposal and a mentor-training plan. The information can be found on the 2018 Medical Student Summer Research Program Highlights and Application.

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What are the appointment dates?

The summer research period is traditionally nine full weeks, the first full week of summer through the last week of summer. Students are permitted to take off five business days during the period that is to be scheduled with their mentors.

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When and what are students paid?

Students are paid at the end of each month. A $3,500 stipend is provided for the entire period, unless you are identified as an NIH-grant student. This is a taxable stipend.

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Is there an orientation?

Yes. There is both an HR orientation as well as a lab safety orientation. Both are mandatory for all students. These occur the first week of the summer program.

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Are there other requirements of the program?
  • All students will attend the Introduction to Research Methods Course. This is a mandatory five-week course that meets twice a week and has a journal club component. Funded students must participate fully in this course.
  • All students must submit a summary of their research experience at the conclusion of the Summer Research Program. The description should include 1) the question asked, 2) the methods employed, 3) the results obtained, and 4) the conclusions drawn. Note that with proper formatting, a variation on this summary would be acceptable for submission as an abstract to the Annual UT Southwestern Medical Student Research Forum (abstracts submitted to the research forum are published and can be listed on your curriculum vitae).

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What can be expected of me as a mentor?

Mentoring students – particularly those without prior research experience – can be a demanding role. By the same token, the impact that an effective mentor can have on the subsequent career of a student can be profound.

Before the Summer Research Program, all mentors are encouraged to define the project that a student will approach as early and precisely as possible, including the resources that this office can provide. Provide as much background and direction in advance as is possible. Students are most productive when they are associated with a well-defined project, given the requisite knowledge/tools, and provided abundant opportunities for feedback and discussion.

Generally, students are unhappy when they are associated with a poorly defined project that they feel unprepared to approach.

During the Program, try to meet with your student as frequently as possible. The happiest students are consistently those who feel that their efforts are toward a worthwhile goal and are appreciated. Mentors are required to provide a workspace for the researcher during their time in the lab.

Mentors will be asked to comment on the running of the Summer Research Program as well as possibly writing letters of recommendations for their students. Because our programs are run off of grants, mentors will be asked to submit current bio sketches with student projects and other grant awards to complete our applications.

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What services are provided by the Summer Research Program?

Primarily, our office will onboard the students for payment during the summer. Based on their research proposal, we will also start the credentialing pathway. If the students need, we will also request their SW ID and Outlook accounts, their eIRB accounts, and theit EPIC accounts.

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What would my department be responsible for?

Since our office is not able to amend IRBs, your department would be responsible for adding students to the IRB and IACUC protocols they would be working on during the program.

The department would also be responsible for requesting any department-specific program access, such as iSITE or department computer drives.

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How many students can be associated with a single mentor?

In order to provide the most meaningful learning experiences possible, in most instances, only a single student will be assigned to an individual mentor’s project. Unless compelling reasons can be presented, no more than two students will be associated with a single mentor but each student will need a personalized project description and mentoring plan.

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What if my student is not selected for funding?

If your student is not selected for funding, there are two avenues to pursue so that the student can still participate in the Summer Research Program. One is that some mentors choose to fund their own student for the summer. We can assist in this process. The second is that students can participate in MED 1054 Summer Research Enrichment Elective. This allows the student to do a minimum of six weeks of research for transcription notation and they can still participate in the Summer Research Program and our office will still assist in credentialing them.

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What should I do if I have problems with my student?

Often issues between mentor and students can be clarified with some discussion. Please contact the Associate Dean at any sign of continued problems to help mediate the concerns. If problems are resistant to such interventions, students can be assigned to other laboratories. For the purposes of comparison, issues have arisen only once every one to three years that have necessitated a student be reassigned. Most of the previous problems have stemmed from a failure of the mentor to clearly communicate the expectation of the project to the student and the student generally being unhappy with their assignment.

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