Advancing Institutional Efforts to Support Research Mentorship

A Conceptual Framework and Self-Assessment Tool

Published In: Academic Medicine, v. 83, no. 3, Mar. 2008, p. 217-225

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2007

by Donna J. Keyser, Joan M. Lakoski, Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo, Dana Schultz, Valerie L. Williams, Darlene F. Zellers, Harold Alan Pincus

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The purpose of this article is to assist institutions in advancing their efforts to support research mentorship. The authors begin by describing how institutions can shape the key domains of research mentorship: (1) the criteria for selecting mentors, (2) incentives for motivating faculty to serve effectively as mentors, (3) factors that facilitate the mentor-mentee relationship, (4) factors that strengthen a mentee's ability to conduct research responsibly, and (5) factors that contribute to the professional development of both mentees and mentors. On the basis of a conceptual analysis of these domains as currently documented in the literature, as well as their collective experience examining mentoring programs at a range of academic medicine institutions and departments, the authors provide a framework that leaders of institutions and/or departments can adapt for use as a tool to document and monitor policies for guiding the mentorship process, the programs/activities through which these policies are implemented, and the structures that are responsible for maintaining policies and implementing programs. The authors provide an example of how one hypothetical institution might use the self-assessment tool to track its policies, programs, and structures across the key domains of research mentorship and, on the basis of this information, identify a range of potential actions to strengthen its research mentoring efforts. The authors conclude with a brief discussion of the limitations of the self-assessment tool, the potential drawbacks and benefits of the overall approach, and proposed next steps for research in this area.

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