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High impact biomedical research is increasingly conducted by large, transdisciplinary, multisite teams in an increasingly collaborative environment. Thriving in this environment requires robust teamwork skills, which are not acquired automatically in the course of traditional scientific education. Team science skills training does exist, but most is directed at clinical care teams, not research teams, and little is focused on the specific training needs of early-career investigators, whose early team leadership experiences may shape their career trajectories positively or negatively. Our research indicated a need for team science training designed specifically for early-career investigators.
To address this need, we designed and delivered a 2-day workshop focused on teaching team science skills to early-career investigators. We operationalized team science competencies, sought the advice of team science experts, and performed a needs assessment composed of a survey and a qualitative study. Through these multiple approaches, we identified and grouped training priorities into three broad training areas and developed four robust, hands-on workshop sessions.
Attendees comprised 30 pre- and post-doc fellows (TL1) and early-career faculty (KL2 and K12). We assessed impact with a pre- and post-workshop survey adapted from the Team Skills Scale. Results from the pre- and post-test Wilcoxon signed-rank analysis (n = 25) showed statistically significant improvement in team science skills and confidence. Open-ended responses indicated that the workshop focus was appropriate and well targeted to the trainees’ needs.
Although team science education is still very much in its infancy, these results suggest that training targeted to early-career investigators improves team skills and may foster improved collaboration.