IMPACT (Intensive Mentoring Program for Advancement and Career Training)
is a weekly small-group session for first year students to learn how to be a research scholar, develop professional skills, and understand career development.
Biomedical sciences PhD students are admitted to Vanderbilt through two umbrella admissions programs, the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP) or the Quantitative Chemical Biology Program (QCB). Together, the IGP and QCB programs enroll about 70 students each year. During the IGP and QCB year, students are organized into small groups of 8-9 students and paired with a single faculty mentor (the IMPACT mentor) who meets weekly with the students for informal discussions.
IMPACT sessions follow the IGP/QCB timelines closely and address pertinent issues of interest to the student as they arise. For example, early in the semester, IMPACT mentors discuss strategies for identifying lab rotations and approaching potential mentors. Other topics addressed throughout the year include balancing courses and lab work, how to select a thesis lab, work-life balance, and expectations of graduate students.
Discussions are often driven by the students’ current interests and concerns, and this two-way conversation in a small setting is what makes IMPACT so beneficial and so highly rated by the students.