There appears to be variability in the success with which institutions are successful in moving students to program completion and on to matriculation in graduate school. Again, the comments of T34 COR training directors on this variability as summarized in an NIMH staff report is instructive:

The T34 COR training directors caution that judging success of a program can and should be done at many levels using many criteria. They emphasize this because T34 COR programs at different institutions are unique, and should be evaluated for their unique contributions and not compared with each other or judged against mainstream programs.36

Conclusion

Overall, the T34 U*STAR and T34 COR programs appear to work for most program participants. Both programs appear to have substantial success in moving students through to program completion and the baccalaureate. Estimates of program completion range from 85 to 99 percent, depending on the program. Eighty-nine percent of T34 U*STAR trainees interviewed have completed the program. This is similar to the 87 percent of T34 COR respondents who eventually graduate. The many important and useful features of the program include the opportunity to engage in a hands-on research experience, the availability of mentoring, and the financial support provided by these programs. All are central to the programs and to their success. In the course of reviewing these programs, however, there are areas for further review that may lead to program enhancement. These areas are described briefly below.

Demographics and Recruitment. T34 U*STAR and T34 COR respondents were overwhelmingly female. Program administrators reported a need for greater outreach to African-American males.

Financial Support. There are differences of opinion about whether trainees should work for wages or salaries while in the program. One T34 U*STAR program administrator said that because the stipend of $10,500 was not enough for some students, trainees work on the side. Also, a sizable minority of T34 U*STAR and T34 COR trainees reported earning wages or salaries while in the program. Another administrator, however, screens students to make sure that they do not work outside the program, saying that such work distracts students from their studies and is a “recipe for failure.”

Research. The research experience is a central feature of the T34 U*STAR and T34 COR programs. The adequacy of the research infrastructure available to trainees, however, appears to be an issue for at least some of the recipient institutions. Recipient

36  

National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. Undated. NIMH Training Programs for Underrepresented Racial/Ethnic Minorities, NIMH interim staff report. Bethesda, Md.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.



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