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Original Investigation |

Characterization of Mentorship Programs in Departments of Surgery in the United States ONLINE FIRST

Melina R. Kibbe, MD1,2; Carlos A. Pellegrini, MD3; Courtney M. Townsend Jr, MD4; Irene B. Helenowski, PhD1; Marco G. Patti, MD1
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
2Editor, JAMA Surgery
3Department of Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle
4Department of Surgery, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
JAMA Surg. Published online July 06, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2016.1670
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Importance  Mentorship is considered a key element for career satisfaction and retention in academic surgery. Stakeholders of an effective mentorship program should include the mentor, the mentee, the department, and the institution.

Objective  The objective of this study was to characterize the status of mentorship programs in departments of surgery in the United States, including the roles of all 4 key stakeholders, because to our knowledge, this has never been done.

Design, Setting, and Participants  A survey was sent to 155 chairs of departments of surgery in the United States in July 2014 regarding the presence and structure of the mentorship program in their department. The analysis of the data was performed in November 2014 and December 2014.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Presence and structure of a mentorship program and involvement of the 4 key stakeholders.

Results  Seventy-six of 155 chairs responded to the survey, resulting in a 49% response rate. Forty-one of 76 of department chairs (54%) self-reported having an established mentorship program. Twenty-five of 76 departments (33%) described no formal or informal pairing of mentors with mentees. In 62 (82%) and 59 (78%) departments, no formal training existed for mentors or mentees, respectively. In 42 departments (55%), there was no formal requirement for the frequency of scheduled meetings between the mentor and mentee. In most departments, mentors and mentees were not required to fill out evaluation forms, but when they did, 28 of 31 were reviewed by the chair (90%). In 70 departments (92%), no exit strategy existed for failed mentor-mentee relationships. In more than two-thirds of departments, faculty mentoring efforts were not recognized formally by either the department or the institution, and only 2 departments (3%) received economic support for the mentoring program from the institution.

Conclusions and Relevance  These data show that only half of departments of surgery in the United States have established mentorship programs, and most are informal, unstructured, and do not involve all of the key stakeholders. Given the importance of mentorship to career satisfaction and retention, development of formal mentorship programs should be considered for all academic departments of surgery.

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Figure 1.
Types of Pairing of Mentees With Mentors
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Figure 2.
Training Courses Associated With Mentorship Programs

A, Percentage of departments that offer training courses for faculty mentors. B, Percentage of mentees who are required to attend career development courses.

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Figure 3.
Exit Strategies for Failed Mentor-Mentee Relationships

Percentage of departments of surgery that have formal exit strategies in place for failed mentor-mentee relationships.

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Figure 4.
Recognition of Faculty Mentoring Efforts

A, Recognition of faculty mentorship activity by the department. B, Recognition of the faculty mentorship programs by the institution.

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