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Helping Medical School Faculty Realize Their Dreams: An Innovative, Collaborative Mentoring Program

Pololi, Linda H. MBBS; Knight, Sharon M. PhD, RN; Dennis, Kay EdD, RN; Frankel, Richard M. PhD

Academic Medicine:
Special Theme: Faculty Development: SPECIAL THEME ARTICLES

Junior faculty wishing to achieve successful careers in academic medicine face many challenges. To facilitate faculty in their career development, the authors implemented and evaluated an innovative collaborative, or peer-group, mentoring program at their medical school. Based on Rogerian and adult learning principles, the program incorporated development of skills in key areas for career development, a structured values-based approach to career planning, and instruction in scholarly writing. The 80-hour program has so far been conducted twice over two academic years (1999–2001) with 18 faculty (50% women). Quantitative and qualitative methods were used in the evaluation.

Program attendance was 89%. All participants completed a written academic development plan, an exercise they rated as valuable. They also completed an average of one to three manuscripts for publication. Evaluation data highlighted the critical nature of a supportive learning environment and the reasons participants chose to attend the program consistently. Key meaningful outcomes for most participants were: (1) identification of their core values; (2) a structured process of short- and long-term career planning based on these core values; (3) the development of close, collaborative relationships; (4) development of skills in such areas as gender and power issues, negotiation and conflict management, scholarly writing, and oral presentation, and (5) improved satisfaction linked to participants' decisions to remain in academic medicine. Participants developed a sense of personal transformation and empowerment.

The authors conclude that collaborative mentoring offers a new approach to faculty development that addresses limitations of traditional approaches in a satisfying and cost-effective way.

Author Information

When the program described in this article was undertaken, Dr. Pololi was professor of medicine and assistant dean and director, Office of Faculty Development, and director, National Center of Leadership in Academic Medicine, the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. She is now professor of medicine and vice chancellor for education at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts; Dr. Knight is associate professor, Department of Health Education and Promotion, and associate dean, School of Health and Human Performance, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina; Dr. Dennis was assistant professor of nursing, School of Nursing, East Carolina University, and is now distance learning director, Carteret Community College, Morehead City, North Carolina; and Dr. Frankel is vice president for program evaluation, The Fetzer Institute, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Dr. Pololi, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Education, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01655; telephone: (508) 856-8432; e-mail: 〈〉.

The authors thank the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Women's Health, and in particular Saralyn Mark, for the support of this demonstration project. They also thank Penny Williamson, Dan Duffy, and Mack Lipkin, who contributed to the design of the program; and Gloria Winn for support of the program and for the statistical analyses of the data. Special thanks go to the faculty participants, from whom the authors learned much and whose friendship they cherish.

© 2002 Association of American Medical Colleges