Department of Medicine Goes Live with a Formal Mentoring Program
A mentor is a person who oversees the career development of another person through teaching, advising, providing support, protecting, and at times promoting or sponsoring. Advice can pertain to career goals, scholarly projects, promotion issues, time management, short and long term career planning, or issues of professional/personal balance. Mentors typically have more experience and knowledge than their mentees in the areas in which they are providing mentoring. Mentors develop a relationship with their mentee based on trust, mutual respect and mutual beneficence.
Why should the Department of Medicine do this?
Goal The goal of the Department of Medicine is to foster the career development of each faculty member by providing appropriate mentorship. In addition, it is to provide resources to help the mentors be most effective in this role.
The faculty of the Department is its most precious resource. Literature on mentoring suggests that effective mentors enhance the productivity and success of the mentee and enhance career satisfaction. While informal mentoring relationships are ubiquitous, structured programs to support and develop successful mentoring relationships can enhance the success of individual faculty members and departments as a whole. Hence throughout North America, many academic medical centres and departments have developed mentoring programs. Formalized programs ensure that mentoring is broadly available to all faculty members and improve the quality of the mentoring relationships. Programs help to prevent common problems such as lack of faculty knowledge about expectations at the Institution, mismatches between faculty goals and job descriptions, and inadequate documentation to support career advancement.
Principles of a Department Program
- Effective mentoring is needed by all new faculty at least within the first five years of their appointment (lecturer, assistant professor and associate professor).
- Individual faculty members may need more than one person as a mentor (a mentor team), but this should include one formal mentor who is primarily responsible.
- Mentors can be more effective with instruction and support and the Department of Medicine will provide ongoing mentor workshops for interested mentors who wish to share best practices and become even more effective and comfortable in this important role.
- Departmental leaders (Physician-in-Chief, Department Division Director, and Hospital Division/Department Head) need to be involved in this process by ensuring that each junior faculty member has a formal mentor and, when requested, an appropriate mentor team.
- Responsibility to ensure the best mentoring process is a joint one between the individual junior faculty member and the Hospital division chief, the Department Division Director and the Physician-in-Chief.
Components of a Department Mentoring Program
- Faculty Academic Planning – One of the key components of most mentoring programs is to help individual junior faculty members develop a personalized academic plan. Typically, this includes articulating a 3-5 year career plan and specific one-year objectives that can be reviewed with the mentor on a regular basis.
- The Department of Medicine has implemented an academic planning process for every incoming faculty member and for individuals within their first five years of appointment. Each of the individuals in this cohort will be asked to prepare an annual achievement plan and an academic planning document and review these with their formal mentor and the DDD and the Hospital Division/Department Head at one of the hospitals.
- The annual achievement plan looks back at all the accomplishments of the last year; celebrates the successes and identifies areas in need of improvement and perhaps suggests change. The annual activity report generated by the electronic CV is the basis for this review between the faculty member and their formal mentor. This document will be prepared annually, signed electronically by the mentor and faculty member and faculty will be encouraged to keep a copy. At his or her discretion they may share a copy with their DDD, Hospital Division/Department Head, and PIC.
- The academic planning document looks forward and helps to focus time, energy and resources towards achieving realistic goals. These should be matched with appropriate time allocations, a mentoring team and defined outcomes. This document will be completed by the individual, discussed with their formal mentor, reviewed by their Department Division Director, Hospital Division Director and/or Physician-in-Chief and revised together as appropriate. This document will be prepared annually, signed electronically by the mentor and faculty member and faculty will be encouraged to keep a copy. At his or her discretion they may share a copy with their Department Division Director, Hospital Division Director and/or Physician-in-Chief
- The Department of Medicine will provide a web-based interface to complete the achievement plan and the planning document annually with an email reminder system and a link through email to involve the mentor and the Department Division Director, Hospital Division Director and/or Physician-in-Chief when desired.
- This will be similar to POWER with respect to email reminders and links to forms except this will occur only once a year in the spring when faculty members are usually preparing their annual activity report to submit to their Hospital Division and Physician-in-Chief.
- Process to Identify Mentors – The identification of a formal mentor is a current requirement of the appointment process in the Department of Medicine.
- A single formal mentor is required and participates with the faculty to complete the annual planning document for each young faculty member.
- Each specific objective outlined in the annual planning document might identify a mentor for this academic activity. Hence through this process a mentor team will be identified for each participating faculty.
- If the new recruit is a Toronto graduate or postgraduate a formal mentor will be identified prior to appointment.
- If the new recruit is not a local recruit and does not have a mentoring connection with a University of Toronto faculty member, the Department Division Director, Hospital Division Director and/or Physician-in-Chief will work with the individual to identify at least one mentor within the first six months of the appointment.
- Develop Materials and Training for Mentors – As a component of improving mentoring, many programs train mentors in their roles. This includes providing a set of expectations for mentoring and specific advice for topics to cover in regular meetings with the mentee. Typically, mentor responsibilities include reviewing the junior faculty academic career plans and fine tuning the specific one year objectives.
A priority of the Department’s strategic plan is to provide training for identified mentors in the Department who work with faculty in the academic planning process. A mentoring workshop developed in 2008, in collaboration with the Centre for Faculty Development at St Michael’s Hospital, has been our first step towards achieving this goal. In the course of a pleasant and fun afternoon through large group, small group and role play, faculty work through scenarios of mentor/mentee meetings and discuss how best to handle particular situations. By the end of the workshop, faculty are able to define the elements of an effective mentoring relationship; develop skills required to establish and maintain mentoring relationships; promote a mentoring “culture” within our organization; and separate from mentees when the relationship is not working well. The following articles highlight the benefits of mentorship and provide an excellent resource to those interested in learning more on the topic:
- Dennis C, and Wright J. Model Mentors. Nature/Vol.444/14 December 2006
- Lee A., Dennis, C., Campbell P. Nature’s Guide for Mentors. Nature/Vol. 447/14 June 2007.
- Rewarding Mentors – Mentors derive a number of rewards from the academic process. They have the opportunity to collaborate with young bright investigators who contribute to the development of new scientific ideas. Mentors derive personal gratification from the processes supporting the development of young faculty. Mentoring is a responsible academic activity that should receive academic recognition. This requires tracking participation in the mentoring program as a mentor and rewarding excellence.
- The Department will keep track of the formal mentors as part of faculty census data
- Department Division Directors, Hospital Division Directors and Physicians-in-Chief can access this summary data on their faculty
- The Department of Medicine will give out an annual award for Excellence in Mentoring
- We will encourage institutional awards in mentoring to broaden the reward opportunities to those who have mentored well.
- The teaching dossier and the annual activity report will include mentoring as a reportable scholarly activity
- Evaluating a Mentoring Program - If the Department makes an investment in developing a mentoring program, it should go along with a process of evaluation.
- The Department will evaluate the mentoring process through the implementation of a series of objective and subjective evaluation tools including:
- faculty satisfaction survey conducted through the web every second year
- quality of mentoring relationship as evaluated by self-reported surveys of both the mentors and the faculty
- feedback from mentoring workshops
- promotion rates
- termination rates
- success rates at three year review