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Faculty development/mentoring evolution of mentorship in academic medicine
  1. Samrat Das
  1. Pediatrics, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC STE 903, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Samrat Das, Pediatrics, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC STE 903, USA; samrat.das{at}

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Mentoring was first developed in the United States of America, in the 1970s within large corporations in order to support junior staff. It was in the 1990s, that mentoring programs were introduced in different medical professions, especially in the field of nursing. Formal mentoring programs for medical students and physicians were only developed in the late 1990s.1 While there are many definitions of mentoring, the most frequently used in English scientific literature (SCOPME) is ‘A process whereby an experienced, highly regarded, empathetic person (the mentor) guides another (usually younger) individual (the mentee) in the development and re-examination of their own ideas, learning, and personal and professional development. The mentor, who often works in the same field as the mentee, achieves this by listening or talking in confidence to the mentee.’2

Mentorship is considered critical to academic success and career development for physicians. Mentorship is known to have an important influence on personal development, career guidance, specialty/career choice, faculty retention and research productivity, including publication and grant success. Mentorship is essential for students and residents considering a career in academic medicine. For these reasons, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) have mandatory requirements on mentorship for accredited medical and resident training programs.3 While mentoring is central to academic medicine, it is challenged by increased clinical, administrative, research, and other educational demands on medical faculty.4

Although the definition and role of mentorship has evolved over the years, the most dominant form in medicine has been novice mentoring.5 6 It is defined as a ‘dynamic, context-dependent, goal-sensitive, mutually beneficial relationship between an experienced clinician or scientist and junior clinicians and/or undergraduates focused on advancing the development of the mentee’.7 Over the years, there have been attempts to …

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  • Contributors SD is the sole author for this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Editor's note What is mentoring? A working definition from an old Australian surfer – you lead the mentee to water and they jump in. And you as the mentor ensures, cannot guarantee, that they will swim. How? With all the right preparation and training you have carefully given them, and the example, work ethic and commitment you have personally made. Then they will swim very well provided they: 1) have the “right stuff” that you continue to nurture and evolve from the original substrate you sensed when you first met; 2) they are so afraid to disappoint you because you continue to work as hard or harder than they; and 3) we clear the obstacles – political and academic – to allow them the latitude to grow and facilitate their passage to reach their full potential. Although full potential may vary – you still continue to dote and nurture them. This results in that feeling of great satisfaction that will re-charge you, re-energize you with the vigor necessary for renewal, resilience and perseverance as you continue your mentoring commitment. Finally, mentoring’s true honorees are our families. That extra meeting when you are about to go home, the nights and weekends when mentoring occurs, time which can never be replaced with your families.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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