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Guidelines for Trainees at NIH

Mentoring of junior scientists (students and post-doctoral fellows) is one of the most important obligations of senior scientists at the NIH, and the professional relationship that a trainee develops with his or her mentor is one of the most important outcomes from a fellowship. The trainee and mentor must work together to develop a relationship that fosters freedom of inquiry, critical evaluations, and personal and professional integrity. Trainees must take the initiative to build a strong relationship based on mutual trust and respect. They must strive for the excellence that will merit the intensive involvement of their mentor in their future success. Trainees have certain responsibilities that will enhance their mentoring and training experiences while at the NIH. The NIH Scientific Directors consider the following guidelines as the minimal requirements for trainees to meet:

  1. Trainees must have a commitment to the work of the laboratory/branch and Institute/Center and to the achievement of their research goals. They need to develop a sense of responsibility for the use of the public resources that are made available to them.
  2. Trainees must recognize that much of contemporary science involves team effort and collaborative interactions that require them to conduct themselves in a mature, professional, and civil manner in all interactions with other NIH staff. Trainees must recognize that they work within a laboratory environment and be good citizens by contributing to the maintenance of shared resources and a clean and safe work area.
  3. Trainees should initiate meetings with their supervisor at least every two weeks to discuss research findings and at least yearly to discuss career goals. They have a responsibility to develop their yearly training goals and career goals in these discussions and will need to tailor their education and training to meet those goals.
  4. Trainees are encouraged to identify one or more mentors in addition to their immediate supervisor. Such mentors will facilitate the professional networking that is key to advancement of their career goals.
  5. Trainees must be aware of the legal and ethical aspects and responsibilities that underlie their research. They need to develop an understanding of the behaviors that are considered ethical and unethical within the scientific community (see item 7). They must exercise the highest integrity in collecting, analyzing, and presenting research data.
  6. Trainees should make their satisfactions, dissatisfactions, and needs known to their mentor clearly and often. They should feel comfortable about discussing concerns with their lab/branch chief, scientific director, and/or the NIH ombudsman when necessary.
  7. Trainees must take the NIH Staff Orientation and Information Program and ensure that they take the required courses described therein. Topics covered include essential items to start work; NIH history; staff rights, responsibilities and programs; staff development opportunities; research ground rules; and quality of life issues.

The page was last updated on Friday, March 20, 2015 - 9:07am