One of the most common challenges faced by new faculty is how to get a good handle on research. The transition to academic medicine is a difficult one, whether coming directly out of residency or from a different practice setting. It can often present confusion on expectations and how to achieve your desired goals.
If you are anything like me, you were likely a little naïve about what may be required to pull off successful research projects. Dealing with the internal review board (IRB), leading a research team, understanding the ins and outs of applying for grant funding, properly fulfilling IRB and grant requirements after approval, knowing the best place to submit your manuscript, dealing with publishers and editors, and other steps in the process can cause anxiety and confusion.
To avoid anxiety and confusion as you start your research and career, seek out a mentor, collaborate wisely, pursue your interests, learn all that you can about the funding game, and be persistent.
The importance of a good mentor cannot be overstated. Finding someone, preferably at your own institution, can help with many of the little things that you may not anticipate. A mentor at your home institution can steer you to someone who knows how the local IRB works or to someone who can ensure your grant is submitted properly. Even understanding the differences between the types of grants, such as an R18 or R21, and which one may best fit your level of expertise and type of research can be invaluable and save you a lot of time. It is ideal if your mentor is in a similar research area. However, due to the competitive nature of research, some colleagues in your home institution may prefer not to be a mentor.