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An Initiative in Mentoring to Promote Residents’ and Faculty Members’ Careers

Levy, Bruce D. MD; Katz, Joel T. MD; Wolf, Marshall A. MD; Sillman, Jane S. MD; Handin, Robert I. MD; Dzau, Victor J. MD

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Internal medicine trainees and faculty recognize the value of effective mentoring to help meet the personal and professional needs of residents. However, the paradigm of the mentor–trainee relationship is seriously threatened by increased clinical, research, and administrative demands on both faculty and housestaff. Moreover, the current criteria for promotion in most teaching hospitals emphasize scholarship, rather than citizenship, so activities such as mentoring devolve to a lower priority. In 2000, the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women's/ Faulkner Hospital initiated a program to improve the effectiveness of housestaff mentoring and recognize faculty contributions to resident career development. The authors report the feedback received from a survey of the 2002–03 medical housestaff (74% response rate) and describe their experiences with the initiation of this program. Over 90% of the housestaff respondents thought it important that the Department assigns an individual faculty mentor. In practice, time-consuming professional responsibilities made meetings difficult, but most pairs supplemented their interactions with e-mail. Discussions primarily focused on career advice and support. Housestaff thought mentors were helpful and available when needed. The department has established new metrics for recognizing faculty mentoring and now publicly rewards mentoring excellence. Of note, unassigned mentoring has increased since the initiation of this program. The authors conclude that the formal mentoring program has ensured that all trainees are provided with a mentor, which has facilitated faculty–housestaff interactions and increased recognition of faculty contributions to mentoring.

Dr. Levy is medical residency director for academics and career development; Dr. Katz is medical residency program director; Dr. Wolf is vice-chair for education; Dr. Sillman is medical residency director for ambulatory training; Dr. Handin is vice-chair for faculty affairs; and Dr. Dzau is chairman; all at the Department of Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women's/Faulkner Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Dr. Levy, Medical Residency Director for Academics and Career Development, Internal Medicine, PBB Clinics-3, Brigham and Women's/Faulkner Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115; telephone: 617-732-4353; fax: 617-732-7421.

For articles on related topics, see pp. 825–831, 840–844, 865–872, and 876–881.

© 2004 Association of American Medical Colleges