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The POD: A New Model for Mentoring Underrepresented Minority Faculty

Lewellen-Williams, Charlotte MPH; Johnson, Virginia A. EdD; Deloney, Linda A. EdD; Thomas, Billy R. MD, MPH; Goyol, Apollos PhD; Henry-Tillman, Ronda MD

Faculty

Mentoring, long recognized as a catalyst for successful careers, is particularly important to the career development of underrepresented minority (URM) faculty. In academic medicine, mentor–protégé relationships are seriously threatened by increased clinical, research, and administrative demands and an emphasis on scholarship over citizenship. New mentoring models are needed, and they should be adaptable to a medical school’s unique structure and mission.

The Peer-Onsite-Distance (POD) model, developed in 2002 by the authors and introduced at the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, is a targeted, multilevel mentoring prototype that is built on a solid research foundation and tailored to the unique needs of URM medical school faculty. The mentee’s individual needs for guidance related to career goals, resources, and the content and interaction skills that are known to be critical to successful academic careers are targeted for development. The multilevel approach provides a unique network of peer and faculty mentors who provide site-specific career guidance. Also in the network are leaders in their fields who can provide access to accurate information, cautions, predictions, and announcements of future resources or potential restrictions in academic medicine. Mentor commitments are clearly defined and time contributions are maximized. The POD model aims to promote retention and advance the careers of URM faculty by wrapping them in a protective cushion of interpersonal and intrapersonal support. The flexibility of the design allows for adaptation to any institution’s unique structure and mission.

Ms. Lewellen-Williams is director of faculty diversity for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dr. Johnson is an educational evaluator, the Academic Affairs Office of Educational Development, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dr. Deloney is the graduate medical educator for the Department of Radiology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dr. Thomas is the associate dean of diversity affairs in the College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas.

At the time of the study, Dr. Goyol was a program evaluator, Academic Affairs Office of Educational Development, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dr. Henry-Tillman is director of cancer control for the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Correspondence should be addressed to Ms. Lewellen-Williams, UAMS College of Medicine, Center for Diversity Affairs, 4301 West Markham, #820, Little Rock, AR 72205; telephone (501) 526-6630; fax (501) 526-6620; e-mail: 〈lewellencharlottef@uams.edu〉.

© 2006 Association of American Medical Colleges