Background: Countless articles have demonstrated and emphasized the importance of mentoring in academic medicine. However, the upcoming role of mentors in the evolving medical field is poorly defined. As translational medicine, collaboration, and health care priorities change, so too must the goals and use of mentoring. The aims of this article are to demonstrate key aspects of effective mentoring in academic plastic surgery, show institutions how to cultivate mentoring relationships among their faculty and trainees, and provide direction for how to optimize the future use of mentoring to best prepare the next generation of plastic surgeons.
Methods: The authors reviewed the current literature regarding mentorship and the evolution of academic plastic surgery.
Results: Mentors not only facilitate their protégés’ entrance into the field and future success, but can also attract medical students and residents to careers in research and reduce the racial and gender discrepancies in plastic surgery and academia. Ideally, faculty should undergo some form of training before they enter mentoring relationships. This will ensure that they are aware of their specific duties as mentors, are able to communicate with mentees, and can avoid potential pitfalls.
Conclusions: Mentorship is a tool. If used correctly, it can help recruit and retain talented physician-scientists to plastic surgery to satisfy the growing demand. This will require institutions to actively support mentorship, provide opportunities and resources for training mentors, and enable faculty to allocate time to this vital pursuit.