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Mentoring and the Career Satisfaction of Male and Female Academic Medical Faculty

DeCastro, Rochelle MS; Griffith, Kent A. MS; Ubel, Peter A. MD; Stewart, Abigail PhD; Jagsi, Reshma MD, DPhil

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000109
Research Reports

Purpose To explore aspects of mentoring that might influence medical faculty career satisfaction and to discover whether there are gender differences.

Method In 2010–2011, the authors surveyed 1,708 clinician–researchers who received (in 2006–2009) National Institutes of Health K08 and K23 awards, which provided mentoring for career development. The authors compared, by gender, the development and nature of mentoring relationships, mentor characteristics, extent of mentoring in various mentor roles, and satisfaction with mentoring. They evaluated associations between mentoring and career satisfaction using multivariable linear regression analysis.

Results The authors received 1,275 responses (75% response rate). Of these respondents, 1,227 (96%) were receiving K award support at the time and constituted the analytic sample. Many respondents had > 1 designated mentor (440/558 women, 79%; 410/668 men, 61%; P < .001). Few were dissatisfied with mentoring (122/1,220, 10.0%; no significant gender difference). Career dissatisfaction was generally low, but 289/553 women (52%) and 268/663 men (40%) were dissatisfied with work–life balance (P < .001). Time spent meeting or communicating with the mentor, mentor behaviors, mentor prestige, extent of mentoring in various roles, and collegiality of the mentoring relationship were significantly associated with career satisfaction. Mentor gender, gender concordance of the mentoring pair, and number of mentors were not significantly associated with satisfaction.

Conclusions This study of junior faculty holding mentored career development awards showed strong associations between several aspects of mentoring and career satisfaction, indicating that those concerned about faculty attrition from academic medicine should consider mentor training and development.

Ms. DeCastro is research area specialist intermediate, Center for Bioethics and Social Science in Medicine and Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Mr. Griffith is statistician lead, Biostatistics Unit, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Ubel is professor, Fuqua School of Business and Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Stewart is professor, Department of Psychology and Women’s Studies Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Jagsi is associate professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Funding/Support: This work was supported by grant 5 R01 HL101997-04 from the National Institutes of Health to Dr. Jagsi. The funding body played no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript. Dr. Ubel is supported by a Health Policy Investigator Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: This study was approved by the University of Michigan institutional review board.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Jagsi, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, UHB2C490, SPC 5010, 1500 E. Medical Center Dr., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5010; telephone: (734) 936-7810; e-mail:

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges