ERIC Number: EJ916144
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Reference Count: 2
Commentary: Attitude Adjustment--Educating PhD Scientist for Business Careers
Schuster, Sheldon M.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, v39 n1 p61-62 Jan-Feb 2011
The PhD graduate from a US research academic institution who has worked 5-7 years to solve a combination of laboratory and computational problems after an in-depth classroom experience is likely superbly trained in at least a subset of the life sciences and the underlying methodology and thought processes required to perform high level research. What is less uniform are the requirements to develop written and verbal communication skills--necessary for either an academic or industry career. Even greater variability exists in the extent to which PhD students understand the processes, strategies, and challenges (either technical, financial, or regulatory) of the life sciences industry. However, what is shocking is the degree to which US PhD students and postdoctorals lack even a primitive understanding of the roles they might play as scientists in the industry that are not research. Students are smart and can work hard and learn. Educators are the ones who must fix this problem. This will not be achieved by pawning off responsibility and creating an occasional seminar or other "business light" cocktail hour and thinking they have done their jobs. With a proper appreciation that learning business skills requires in-depth and focused programs requiring significant time and commitment, the various business schools can work with science faculty to create curricula and cocurricular activities that are appropriate and effective for PhDs and postdoctorals. The author contends that the bigger challenge is in faculty attitude. These new educational programs will become relegated to the fringes of academic enterprise unless life sciences faculty begin to appreciate the role of industry as scientifically valid, high quality and essential to the process of translating basic science for the benefit of society. There are numerous exciting, important and fulfilling opportunities for life sciences PhDs in industry--with the vast majority not in research--that should be sought by students. Being part of the process that delivers a cure or effective treatment is exciting and challenging both scientifically and commercially. Educators as scientists are part of that process, and it is time that they recognize the critical contributions of the other essential components, and their roles in educating and encouraging those who move technology forward.
Descriptors: Postdoctoral Education, Verbal Communication, Industry, Biological Sciences, Cognitive Processes, Sciences, Communication Skills, Scientists, Doctoral Programs, Research, Higher Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States