• early-career
  • Early Career

    The Early Career Networking Group (ECNG) will help with many challenging aspects of career development, such as:

    • Preparing for job interviews, negotiating faculty positions or preparing for promotion and tenure
    • Improving your grant writing skills, learning about grant mechanisms for new investigators, and how to get published
    • Networking with renowned leaders in the field, or finding collaborative opportunities within a variety of rehabilitation disciplines
    • How to become a more active and recognized member within ACRM

    The ECNG seeks to provide assistance with all of these common career development challenges. Networking group members will work together to share relevant announcements, resources, professional contacts, mentorship support, and informative discussions.

    Meeting & mentoring is nonstop at ACRM

    ACRM = NONSTOP mentoring & networking. Click for picts from 2016 ACRM Conference

    Early Career professionals imageEarly Career Reception imageEarly Career Reception image


    The mission of the Early Career Networking Group (ECNG) is to foster the development and advancement of early career professionals in the field of rehabilitation. We work together to tackle many of the common career development challenges. Our supportive network of peers provides the necessary resources and networking opportunities to promote successful career growth for rehabilitation researchers and clinicians.

    How to Participate

    Now is the perfect time to join this important networking group and help shape its growth. Participate in one of our existing task forces or suggest a new one!

    • Early Career Development Course Task Force
    • Communications Task Force
    • Physicians Task Force

    It is cliché, but true that as an early career professional, you are the future of rehabilitation and ACRM. Getting involved with the ECNG now is a worthwhile investment in that future – whether you are early or late in your career.


    Early Career networking at its best: Largest interdisciplinary rehabilitation research event in the worldEarly Career Opportunities at the ACRM Annual Conference

    Join us at the 2016 ACRM Annual Conference, Progress in Rehabilitation Research in Chicago this fall for cutting-edge research translated to clinical practice. Plus, dive deep into intensive Pre-Conference Instructional Courses on a wide variety of topics or the Early Career Development Course for new researchers.

    Up to 42.5 hours of CE available.

    Learn More >>



    “How does ACRM Help You?"

    Douglas Katz, MD, FACRM, FAAN
    Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital


    How to Join the ECNG

    One of the most valuable benefits of ACRM membership is the opportunity to participate in the many interdisciplinary special interest groups (ISIG) and networking groups.

    Click the JOIN NOW button to learn more or contact Member Services at +1.703.435.5335 for personal assistance.


    Contact the Early Career Networking Group Chair, Megan Mitchell, PhD to learn more about this group or to become more specifically involved in a task force.

    Early Career Networking Group Flyer


    Early Career Outstanding Mentoring Award

    Ralph Nitkin, PhD

    Ralph Nitkin, PhD

    The Early Career Outstanding Mentoring Award was established in 2016 to honor those who have significantly contributed through mentoring to the development of early career rehabilitation professionals, the Early Career Development Course and the Early Career Networking Group’s Mentoring Task Force.

    ACRM is pleased to honor Ralph Nitkin, PhD with the 2016 inaugural award.

    Ralph Nitkin, PhD, is the Deputy Director for the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR), which is located within the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the NIH. He has worked as a science administrator at the NICHD for the past 26 years, first in the area of mental retardation and developmental disabilities and for the last 16 years in the area of medical rehabilitation.

    Dr. Nitkin has been heavily involved in the formation of the rehab research infrastructure networks (www.NCMRR.ORG), the annual rehab grant-writing workshop (formerly ERRIS, currently called TIGRR), and special career-development networks for physiatrists, for physical/occupational therapists, and more recently for rehab engineers. He has helped promote NIH research initiatives in such diverse areas as genomic factors that affect rehab outcomes, promotion of exercise and diet in children with disabilities, clinical trial design in rehab, technologies for healthy independent living, and research workforce diversity. He looks forward to continuing to work with rehab researchers as well as those from allied fields.


    ECNG Executive Committee

    Megan Mitchell
    Chair: Megan Mitchell, PhD
    Biomedical Engineer
    Kansas City, KS
    Brooks WingoChair-Elect: Brooks Wingo, PhD
    University of Alabama at Birmingham
    Birmingham, AL
    Dawn Neumann, PhDPast Chair: Dawn Neumann, PhD
    Indiana University
    Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana
    Indianapolis, IN
    LinkedIn Profile
    Chari Hirshson
    Secretary: Chari I. Hirshson, PhD
    Licensed Clinical Psychologist
    Mount Sinai School of Medicine
    New York, NY
    LinkedIn Profile

    ECNG Resources & Information Newsletter

    One of the great benefits of joining the ECNG is the quarterly newsletter of early career resources and information. Check out the current issue and join the ECNG Membership to get involved and start receiving the information you need to advance your rehabilitation research career.

    Read the Current Issue >>>

    2016 Issues

    2015 Issues

    Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award Supported by CARF International


    Deborah Wilkerson

    Deborah L. Wilkerson

    The Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award Supported by CARF International is an award given by ACRM to Early Career Professionals who are making significant contributions in the field of rehabilitation. Recipients receive a plaque, monetary award, travel stipend, complimentary registration, and an opportunity to present at the ACRM Annual Conference. Learn more.


    Congratulations to the 2016 Awardee

    Yelena Goldin

    Yelena Goldin

    In 2016, ACRM honors Yelena Goldin, PhD for the significant contributions she has made during her early career work. Dr. Goldin will present Attention Network Functions in Adults With Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury during the ACRM 93rd Annual Conference in Chicago where she will receive her award.



    Beth Skidmore image

    Beth Skidmore (center); Tamara Bushnik, ACRM President; and Wayne Gordon, Awards Committee Chair

    “Receiving the Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award is a great honor. I highly value the scientific and clinical community within the Congress, and receiving recognition from this esteemed group of scientists and professionals is humbling and rewarding.”

    –Elizabeth Skidmore, PhD, OTR/L, Associate Professor School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh


    image: Angelle Sander

    Angelle Sander

    “Receiving the Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award was the most cherished honor that I have had in my career. This is because it was awarded by people in the field of rehabilitation that I truly respect and admire. I know that the Wilkerson awardees are carefully chosen to represent the spirit of Deb Wilkerson, who was a role model in providing holistic rehabilitation services and conducting meaningful research. Receipt of this award meant that my research was perceived as making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities, which is the greatest honor one can receive.”

    Angelle Sander, PhD, FACRM, Assistant Professor, Baylor College of Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

    “Building Leaders in Rehabilitation Research"

    Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner, PhD, CBIST, FACRM
    Brain Trauma Foundation

    Early Career Development Course

    The Early Career Development Course is a perennial favorite developed by the ACRM Early Career Networking Group. It provides an ideal venue for connecting with seasoned professionals who can answer your questions and guide you on your path to success.

    With particular focus on career development issues relevant to early career researchers, this full-day program preceding the ACRM Annual Conference, comprises didactic presentation, panel discussion, one-on-one networking, and small group discussions. All up-and-coming rehabilitation research professionals are encouraged to attend.

    2016 THEME

    The 2016 program theme, Team Science, will focus on helping attendees develop their research identity while forming collaborative relationships and teams, enhancing team communication, preventing conflicts, giving and sharing credit in publications and grants, balancing individual and team pursuits for tenure and promotion and increasing productivity.


    Michael Boninger

    Michael Boninger

    Edelle Field-Fote

    Edelle Field-Fote

    Michael Boninger, MD and Edelle Field-Fote, PhD, PT, will kick-off the course with Perils, Pitfalls and Possibilities: What to Look Out for in Your Early Career.


    Dr. Boninger is director of the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute and author of five US patents. He is renowned for his extensive research on spinal cord injury, assistive technology, and overuse injuries, particularly those associated with manual wheelchair propulsion.

    Dr. Field-Fote is a leading neuroscientist and director of spinal cord injury research at Shepherd Center. She is internationally renowned for her work in motor recovery after spinal cord injury.

    Learn More about the 2016 Early Career Development Course >>


    Early Career Development Course Testimonial by Valerie Hill


    Get Involved in Exciting Task Forces!


    Early Career Networking Group image

    From left to right, Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner, Dawn Neumann, Brad Kurowski

    All task forces conduct regular monthly or bi-monthly meetings via conference calls. Please contact the designated task force chair for more information about meeting times and getting involved.


    Monique Pappadis

    Monique Pappadis

    Early Career Development Course Task Force

    Chair: Monique Renae Pappadis, MEd, PhD
    University of Texas Medical Branch
    LinkedIn Profile

    This task force plans the full-day Early Career Development Course held each fall at the ACRM Annual Conference. Last year, the course focused on grantsmanship, with particular emphasis on career development and pilot /small project funding mechanisms.

    Alison Cogan

    Alison Cogan

    Communications Task Force

    Chair: Alison Cogan, PhD candidate, OTR/L
    University of Southern California
    LinkedIn Profile

    This task force gathers important announcements and information relevant to career development in the rehabilitation field and disseminates them through social media, eblasts, ACRM newsletters and the website. This includes information on grant resources and grant writing, job interviewing tips, work/ life balance, tips for promotion and tenure, getting started with research, initiating collaborations, finding good mentors and more. This task force also develops communications to help promote the ECNG and recruit members.

    Brooks Wingo

    Brooks Wingo

    Mentoring / Advising Task Force

    Chair: Brooks Wingo, PhD
    University of Alabama at Birmingham

    The mission of this task force is to facilitate the development of mentoring relationships among rehabilitation professionals at varying stages in their career development through research, educational, and clinical collaborative opportunities. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact the co-chairs.