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Letters to the Editor

Peer Mentorship: An Often-Overlooked Tool in Underresourced Academic Departments

Faloye, Abimbola O. MD; Bechtel, Allison J. MD; Methangkool, Emily MD

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doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003776
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To the Editor:

The success of junior faculty in academic medicine depends on the ability to develop a career vision, establish a path to obtain that vision, and align professional activities with career goals. While these are possible to accomplish without a mentor, high-quality mentorship has been shown to correlate with improved career satisfaction, faculty retention, increased professional society involvement, greater number of research publications, and successful grant applications.1,2 However, barriers, such as not enough time on the part of the mentor and the lack of formal mentorship training limit the availability of suitable mentors in many academic departments. In addition, female faculty more often find that there are not enough role models and senior faculty to serve as mentors.3

Lack of mentorship increases the likelihood of being “stuck in rank,” thus delaying academic promotion. In the absence of senior mentors, faculty should consider adopting other models of mentorship. We maintain that peer mentoring, which occurs among a group of colleagues of similar or equivalent seniority and expertise, can provide a productive alternative to traditional models of mentorship, while offering a support network for its members. The productivity of such a group hinges on defining clear goals and objectives as well as on leveraging the strengths, weaknesses, and experiences of each member. We propose the following framework for constructing peer mentorship groups.

Create a mission statement. Mission statements define the group’s reason for existing in clear and concise terms.

Align goals and expectations. State goals at the onset and carefully evaluate for potential conflicts of interest.

Take inventory. Take inventory of members’ strengths, weaknesses, and experiences that can be used to achieve the group’s goals.

Set mission-focused objectives. Aims should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.

Hold regular meetings with planned agendas. Regular meetings will keep the group on track.

While traditional dyadic models of mentoring offer the advantage of having an experienced mentor, peer mentees can gain immense value from shared experiences and from leveraging the strengths of individuals toward a shared mission and common goals.

References

1. Geraci SA, Thigpen SC. A review of mentoring in academic medicine. Am J Med Sci. 2017;353:151–157.
2. DeCastro R, Griffith KA, Ubel PA, Stewart A, Jagsi R. Mentoring and the career satisfaction of male and female academic medical faculty. Acad Med. 2014;89:301–311.
3. Farkas AH, Bonifacino E, Turner R, Tilstra SA, Corbelli JA. Mentorship of women in academic medicine: A systematic review. J Gen Intern Med. 2019;34:1322–1329.
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