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American Pediatric Society
October 2015

Updating the Academic Playbook

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco
JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(10):889-890. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.1830

For generations, mentors in academic medicine have used an informal, unpublished “playbook for academic success” with their mentees. The playbook is a metaphorical resource, a manual that has been shared across generations. In sports, a playbook describes general strategies as well as specific formations and tactics. The academic playbook describes the factors that promote and hinder academic success, summarizes common scenarios, and allows mentors to provide appropriate advice. With each generation, mentors have tweaked the playbook’s content to ensure that the advice remains relevant. The metaphorical playbook is complemented by each university’s guidelines for advancement and promotion. Those of us who represent the sandwich generation, who continue to interact with our mentors while we mentor a new generation, understand that the playbook’s principles have the ring of timelessness and prima facie validity. I admire the countless mentors who developed and refined the academic playbook and recognize that I was raised on the standard recommendations, but I suggest that one of the “chapters” needs to be updated, perhaps even discarded.

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