The Staffing, Mentorship and Research Training (SMaRT) Program facilitates the navigation of College of Medicine resources for researchers and research support staff. The program team is available to work with investigators and staff at each stage of the research process, creating alignment to necessary skills and resources when they are most needed.
The Staffing, Mentorship and Research Training Program is available to all levels of research support faculty and staff at the College of Medicine. It offers tailored orientation to investigator-initiated research, pre- and post-award consultation services, and navigation to institutional resources applicable to all stages of the research process.
This program is a response to the changing landscape of research both at the College of Medicine and nationally. The College of Medicine has several important offices to support different phases of the research process. The SMaRT Program is different in that its team serves as research navigators for the entire research process. The SMaRT Program was developed by learning from other leading research organizations, like Mayo Clinic and others in the Clinical and Translational Science Award network.
Investigators and staff at any stage of the research process can receive support through the SMaRT Program. Sometimes the support is provided by program staff, and other times it will be more appropriate to connect with existing resources and expertise. It’s important to note that researchers and staff who have a good understanding of the resources at the College of Medicine are encouraged to use the same strategies they have always used, like going directly to a research support office that they are familiar with or who can best answer their question. But not everyone knows how best to navigate the resources at the College of Medicine, which is where the SMaRT Program comes in. The SMaRT Program is creating a network between the silos.
The SMaRT Program team has met with each of the research support offices – including Clinical Trials Office, Research Quality Assurance, Office of Research Affairs, Research Development, Human Subjects Protection Office and Investigator-Initiated Trial Navigation Team – to better understand the scope of support they provide to faculty and staff. The team plans to continue these conversations to enhance the network of research support services, with the ultimate goal of making research more efficient and of the highest quality through streamlined access to information and services needed.
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The program facilitates the alignment of staff time with actual project needs by connecting individuals with capacity to support small or part-time, funded research projects. The program can provide temporary staffing support for established project needs, such as:
- project coordination or management
- data analysis
- marketing and promotion
- project close-out
- long-term support for pilot projects that may lack funding to support full-time project staff
Currently, the program team provides project management expertise in the form of investigator and staff consultations. In addition, the SMaRT team will facilitate the alignment of staff time with actual project needs by connecting individuals with capacity to support small or part-time, funded research projects. The SMaRT Program can provide temporary staffing support for established projects. It will work with financial analysts, operations directors, etc., to discuss what, if any, capacity exists within a department.
Pre- and post award-consultations to junior and senior research investigators offer guidance on project planning, including study startup, implementation, staffing and available resources.
Research staff orientation for newly hired employees allows for a smooth transition to the research environment at the College of Medicine and allows for higher efficiency when navigating through the investigator-initiated research process by introducing available resources.
Regular networking and information-sharing sessions and professional learning opportunities are offered to all research staff as an extension of the new research staff orientation. These resources will focus on network building and skill development.
The orientation launched October 2019, and is now available quarterly. All incoming research support staff will be included by invitation. The orientation is focused on those supporting human subjects research; however, elements will be applicable for all staff who support research. Materials were piloted with employees with the organization for less than one year.
Ongoing efforts will be made to provide the orientation material to existing employees through regular professional learning sessions and online modules.
Students, residents and fellows who are involved in research and connected to a faculty adviser are welcome to speak to the SMaRT Program team. As the program evolves, these services may expand.
The SMaRT Connects series provides ongoing training on various aspects of the research process. A list of past and upcoming sessions appears here.
Watch recordings of previous sessions on MediaSite (ePass login required)
A recording is also available of an informational session held at the launch of the Staffing, Mentorship and Research Training (SMaRT) Program.
Office: Room C1742A within Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s suite at the College of Medicine in Hershey
Email: SMaRTOffice@pennstatehealth.psu.edu (for program details or to be added to the Project Management Working Group mailing list)