Mentoring

Mentoring Philosophy of the USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

Our Department believes that mentors are critical to training and career development for faculty, residents and other trainees, and staff. Fundamentally, our guiding principle is transparency and feedback. We function as a group of team members; what one person does affects us all. This is why it is important for everybody to share their successes and struggles with career development with each other. Our colleagues can then provide feedback in an open and non-critical manner. This cycle repeats itself regularly, and over time, amazing improvements happen. Our Department wants to foster the success of our faculty and trainees by supporting this process of career development.

Physician faculty mentoring process

Director: Eric Kezirian, MD, MPH

Informal mentoring process
All physicians attend Grand Rounds every Friday from 7-9AM, where there are two hour-long presentations. Some of these are formal presentations. However, many are interactive sessions where ideas can be bounced back and forth regarding optimizing patient care, testing innovative treatment modalities, conceptualizing new research strategies, and modifying hospital policies to enhance the patient experience. These interactive sessions provide a way for physicians in our Department to learn from each other and from others in the Keck School of Medicine.

As with any top-tier medical school, the Keck School of Medicine has frequent school-wide workshops dedicated to mentoring junior faculty. Some of these workshops are designed to provide guidance in how to apply for grant funding. Others are focused on leadership, negotiation, handling difficult conversations, teaching strategies, etc. All are freely available to all USC faculty. 

Formal mentoring process
Each faculty member has an individualized mentoring team tailored to their own needs and career goals. In addition, all junior faculty members meet twice a year with mentoring committees comprised of the senior faculty, who can provide critical support and guidance.

The process of mentoring is given below:

  1. Mentees include every Clinical Assistant and Associate Professor (including any Division Chiefs at these levels).
  2. Each mentee will identify an Individual Mentoring Team having at least 3 faculty members, of which a maximum of 2 can come from USC OHNS. It is acceptable to have a mentor from an OHNS department outside USC, if desired. It is the responsibility of the mentee to solicit feedback from their Individual Mentoring Team at least twice a year, ideally through group meetings or conference calls.
  3. All Clinical Professors and Division Chiefs form the Department Mentoring Committee.
  4. Every 6 months, each mentee provides a written statement to the Department Mentoring Committee and to their Individual Mentoring Team. This statement will follow the template of the annual merit review document. This includes a written discussion of career goals as well as their plan and progress towards achieving those goals.
  5. Each mentee will meet with the Department Mentoring Committee twice a year. These meetings will include their 5-minute presentation of their written statements, followed by a discussion of the goals, plans, and progress. The purpose of these meetings is to identify and assist with progress towards career goals, including research, clinical, and educational productivity. It is not meant for anyone to be judged or placed in an uncomfortable or pressured environment.
  6. Once a year, the Department Mentoring Committee performs the initial scoring of the merit evaluations. The Department Chair will modify these scores as needed.

Physician-faculty-mentoring

Research faculty mentoring process

Co-Directors: Carolina Abdala, PhD and Chris Shera, PhD

Informal mentoring process
All research faculty and their laboratory personnel will participate in the Department research seminars that occur every 1–2 weeks. These seminars permit lab trainees to present their work and obtain feedback while allowing research faculty a chance to keep abreast of what their colleagues are doing. Importantly, this forum will also play a key role in the review and mentoring process of research faculty PIs.

As with any top-tier medical school, the Keck School of Medicine has frequency school-wide workshops dedicated to mentoring junior faculty. Some of these workshops are designed to provide guidance in how to apply for grant funding. Others are focused on leadership, negotiation, handling difficult conversations, teaching strategies, etc. All are freely available to all USC faculty.

Formal mentoring process
Annual Presentations: All research faculty should aim to present annually at the Departmental research series. To initiate the process, each research PI will give a “chalk talk” (no slides permitted) at the research seminar series, during which they will present an overview of their laboratory’s research goals and projects (“work in progress”), including specific hypotheses and plans for testing them. Thereafter, chalk-talk-style seminars will be held at regular intervals—a general guideline might be once every three years (modifiable at the Chair’s request and/or when initiated by the PI). Chalk talks provide an important opportunity to air and discuss ideas, such as concepts for grants, papers, new projects, peculiar results, musings about current research directions, and so on. Chalk talks or other work-in-progress seminars will not generally be advertised outside the Department. In off years, PIs should aim to present a regular yearly research-style seminar of noteworthy findings.

Mentoring: All junior research PIs (Assistant and Associate Professors) have a Mentoring Committee consisting of at least 2–3 of the senior research PIs and one or more faculty members from outside the Department to provide an external perspective. At least two members of the Committee should have the expertise necessary to provide detailed advice on the mentee’s research program. The Mentoring Committee meets with the mentee at least twice a year to discuss current status and future plans and to offer advice and assistance. In addition, the Committee is available to provide feedback on manuscripts and grant applications (see below). Whenever possible, one of the two meetings should be scheduled immediately following the mentee’s annual presentation (see above).

Grant applications submitted by junior research faculty must be read by the Mentoring Committee for internal review and feedback. For this to be of value, applications need to be distributed for review well in advance of the deadline (at least 5–6 weeks). The most effective means of getting feedback and resolving possibly conflicting advice is to convene a meeting among those who read the application. Holding an early chalk talk devoted to the conception, formation, and writing of the grant is also strongly encouraged. Although only required of junior faculty, a similar internal grant review process is recommended for faculty at all levels.

Review: The Chair conducts the annual review of all Otolaryngology research faculty, and the procedures for this review are at his discretion. They may take into account the annual presentation described above as well as summaries provided by each faculty member that describe their current laboratory and its members, research publications over the previous year, projects planned for the coming year, teaching and professional service, the status of current grant funding, as well as plans and prospects for future grant applications.

Research-faculty-mentoring

Audiology and SLP faculty mentoring process

Director: Margaret Winter, MS

Informal mentoring process
Audiology and SLP faculty mentoring occurs informally on a daily basis. Most commonly, this happens during lunch. While eating together, team members discuss clinic issues, complicated patients, research, and teaching. Given the multi-disciplinary nature of the complicated audiological and speech/language issues that our clinics have, this kind of frequent, low-key interactions seems to work best.

As with any top-tier medical school, the Keck School of Medicine has frequent school-wide workshops dedicated to mentoring junior faculty. Some of these workshops are designed to provide guidance in how to apply for grant funding. Others are focused on leadership, negotiation, handling difficult conversations, teaching strategies, etc. All are freely available to all USC faculty.

Formal mentoring process
In addition, all audiology and SLP faculty have a get-together twice a year for 2 hours, where we discuss what we do, what the clinical challenges are with various types of patients, how we go about approaching solutions. Career development and strategies for advancing our programs are also discussed at these meetings.

Audiology and SLP faculty mentoring

Otolaryngology resident mentoring process

Co-Directors: Neils Kokot, MD and Tamara Chambers, MD

Informal mentoring process
The faculty includes experts in clinical patient care and research. At each participating rotation site, there are board-certified faculty members who instruct and supervise all residents. Each faculty member brings his or her expertise through participation in teaching rounds, instruction in clinics and surgery, formal teaching conferences, and research. All faculty members are strongly committed to resident mentoring.

Formal mentoring process
Furthermore, all residents have a dedicated clinical mentor throughout the residency program. These are selected within the first few months of starting internship. The resident should initiate a meeting with their clinical mentor at least twice a year to discuss their residency training, their career goals, and their plans to achieve their goals.

A resident may choose to add additional clinical mentors as they begin to develop key areas of interest, or they may simply change. This is up to the discretion of the resident. In addition, each resident should select a research mentor prior to beginning any research project. The research mentor will help the resident develop a hypothesis and the appropriate methodology for testing it. The mentor will guide the resident throughout the project, but it is up to the resident to carry out the research and to write it up for submission to a scholarly journal.

Staff Mentoring Process

Director: Jenny Hu, MS

Informal mentoring process
All the OHNS administrative staff participate in our weekly staff meeting to discuss the administrative issues. We invite school or other department guests to provide administrative-related training twice a year. This also helps staff build important professional connections.

Formal mentoring process

  1. There are regularly-scheduled one-on-one meetings to clarify the career goals and objectives for each individual.
  2. Quarterly feedback and annual performance reviews will be provided to direct reports by their supervisor.
  3. Serial training will be provided about each topic of the core duties and issues that we discuss during our weekly staff meeting, such as:
    • How to achieve accurate and effective calendar management to meet the clinical operation needs
    • How to process business expenses: Reimbursement, Pcard verification, etc.
    • How to solve eMarket ordering issues
    • How to arrange and coordinate events & travel
    • How to prepare and update CV/Biosketch for faculty
    • How to keep one-step ahead of your routine clinical and academic support duties

Staff Mentoring