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August 15, 2007

Access and Diversity in Academic Mentoring

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(7):739. doi:10.1001/jama.298.7.739-a

To the Editor: In their Commentary, Drs Detsky and Baerlocher1 considered how to give and receive academic mentoring. We would like to add 2 points to their discussion.

First, mentoring is nice help if you can get it. Although academic medicine depends on mentoring to prepare its next generation of teachers and researchers, many faculty, trainees, and students do not have mentors. A systematic review of mentoring programs estimated that as little as 20% of faculty in some specialties and less than 50% of medical students have a mentor.2 Women faculty at our institution participating in focus groups described a climate in which tight finances and increasingly complex regulatory requirements leave little time for nonreimbursable activities like mentoring.3 Therefore, in addition to fostering more productive mentoring relationships, medical schools should ensure that all faculty, trainees, and students who want mentorship actually receive it.