[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address 54.87.119.171. Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
Original Investigation
October 2016

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

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. 2016;151(10):900-906. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2016.1670
Key Points

Question  What is the status of mentorship programs in departments of surgery in the United States?

Findings  Results of a survey sent to 155 chairs of departments of surgery with a 49% response rate showed 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.

Meaning  Given the importance of mentorship to career satisfaction and retention, development of formal mentorship programs should be considered for all academic departments of surgery.

Abstract

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.

×