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Policies, Activities, and Structures Supporting Research Mentoring: A National Survey of Academic Health Centers With Clinical and Translational Science Awards

Tillman, Robert E. PhD; Jang, Susan PhD; Abedin, Zainab MPH; Richards, Boyd F. PhD; Spaeth-Rublee, Brigitta MA; Pincus, Harold Alan MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182772b94

Purpose To document the frequency of policies and activities in support of mentoring practices at institutions receiving a U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA).

Method The study consisted of a 69-item survey with questions about the inclusion (formal or informal) of policies, activities, and structures supporting mentoring within CTSA-sponsored research (i.e., KL2 programs) and, more broadly, in the CTSA’s home institution. The survey, conducted from November 2010 through January 2011, was sent to the 55 institutions awarded CTSAs at the time of the survey. Follow-up phone interviews were conducted to clarify responses as needed.

Results Fifty-one of 55 (92%) institutions completed the survey for institutional programs and 53 of 55 (96%) for KL2 programs. Responses regarding policies and activities involving mentor criteria, mentor–mentee relationship, incentives, and evaluative mechanisms revealed considerable variability between KL2 and institutional programs in some areas, such as having mentor qualification criteria and processes to evaluate mentors. The survey also identified areas, such as training and women and minority mentoring programs, where there was frequent sharing of activities between the institutional and KL2 programs.

Conclusions KL2 programs and institutional programs tend to have different preferences for policies versus activities to optimize qualification of mentors, the mentor–mentee relationship, incentives, and evaluation mechanisms. Frequently, these elements are informal. Individuals in charge of implementing and maintaining mentoring initiatives can use the results of the study to consider their current mentoring policies, structures, and activities by comparing them with national patterns within CTSA institutions.

Dr. Tillman is director, Office of Faculty Professional Development, College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York.

Dr. Jang is adjunct associate professor of social studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York.

Ms. Abedin is sr. evaluation specialist, Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York.

Dr. Richards is assistant vice president, Center for Education Research and Evaluation, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York.

Ms. Spaeth-Rublee is research coordinator/program manager, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, New York.

Dr. Pincus is codirector, Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, professor and vice chair, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, director of quality and outcomes research, New York–Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York, and senior scientist, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California.

First published online November 16, 2012

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Pincus, NYS Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Dr., Unit 09, New York, NY 10032; telephone: (212) 543-5401; fax: (212) 543-6038; e-mail:

© 2013 Association of American Medical Colleges