Mentorship important for effective learning

Strong mentoring plays an important role in effective learning by graduate students and can be the foundation for career success. The significant role that mentorship can have was displayed recently by mentor-mentee pair Dr. Monisha Arya of Baylor College of Medicine and Natalia Rodriguez, a public health graduate student at UT Health.

Rodriguez has been mentored by Arya, assistant professor of medicine, for the last year to hone skills in research and medical and science communication. Arya’s coaching has focused in particular on conveying research results for an academic poster, writing a script for a poster presentation and delivering effective, engaging presentations.

With a background in public health and health communications, Arya has been coaching students and junior faculty in skills for communicating medical and science information to academic and non-academic audiences for about 10 years.

“Many medical and graduate schools don’t have time to teach the skills for effective science writing and communication. My passion has been developing seminars and workshops on these topics to mentor the next generation of scholars in medicine, public health and science,” Arya said.

Rodriguez recently was able to put the skills she learned through Arya’s mentorship to use at UTHealth’s School of Biomedical Informatics Connect 2019, an annual showcase by the school’s students, faculty and alumni for prospective students. Her poster and oral presentation on her project, “Acceptability and Feasibility of Video Visits for Weight Management Care,” earned her the 2019 Paul C. Boyle Award of Excellence in Research.

“Dr. Arya taught me to initiate dialogue with poster visitors to engage them in a conversation and avoid jargon, and she coached me through script practices,” Rodriguez said. “I am so thankful to have had Dr. Arya’s mentorship and coaching through the process. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Arya’s commitment to helping others extends to social media, where she engages and learns from others in the medical, science writing and communication space. Most recently, she used social media to launch an academic writing primer series. Her first one, “Tips for Designing a Winning Poster,” was co-authored by Rodriguez. “I am honored to write alongside Dr. Arya and release this primer to help others succeed in this aspect of academia,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve had so much fun collaborating and working with her on so many different writing projects.”

For more information on mentoring and resources on science and medical communications, contact Arya. See her contact information on her online bio.

-By Dana Benson