Mentorship in the Department of Medicine

Mentorship is a process whereby an experienced, highly regarded, empathetic person (the mentor) guides another (usually younger or more junior) individual (the mentee) in the development and re-examination of their own ideas, learning, and personal and professional development.

STANDING COMMITTEE ON POSTGRADUATE MEDICAL AND DENTAL EDUCATION.  SUPPORTING DOCTORS AND DENTISTS AT WORK:  AN ENQUIRY INTO MENTORING 1998.

Why Should the Department of Medicine have a Mentoring Program?

The Department of Medicine (DoM) is committed to fostering the career development of each faculty member by providing appropriate mentorship. The DoM is also committed to providing resources to help the mentors be most effective in their roles.

The faculty of the department is its most precious resource. Literature on mentoring suggests that effective mentors enhance the productivity and success of the mentee and enhance career satisfaction for both mentors and mentees. While informal mentoring relationships are common, structured programs to support and develop successful mentoring relationships can enhance the success of individual faculty members and departments as a whole. Hence throughout North America, many academic health sciences centres and departments have developed mentoring programs. Formalized programs ensure that mentoring is broadly available to all faculty members and improve the quality of the mentoring relationships. Programs help to prevent common problems such as lack of faculty knowledge about expectations at the institution, mismatches between faculty goals and job descriptions, and inadequate documentation to support career advancement.

Principles of a Department Program

  • Effective mentoring is needed by all faculty regardless of academic rank or job description.
  • Individual faculty members may benefit from more than one person as a mentor (a mentor team), but this should include one formal mentor who is primarily responsible for ensuring the mentee's mentoring needs are met.
  • Mentors can be more effective with instruction and support and the Department of Medicine will provide ongoing mentorship workshops for interested mentors who wish to share best practices and become even more effective and comfortable in this important role.
  • This process is coordinated by the mentorship facilitator in consultation with departmental leaders (physician-in-chief/hospital chief, department division director (DDD), and hospital division/department head) to ensure that each faculty member has a formal mentor and, when requested, an appropriate mentor team.
  • The mentee, the mentorship facilitator, the hospital division chief, the department division director and the physician-in-chief/hospital chief collectively share responsibility for ensuring the best mentoring process is in place.

Components of a Department Mentoring Program

Faculty Academic Planning 

One of the key components of most mentoring programs is to help individual junior faculty members develop a personalized academic plan. Typically, this includes articulating a three-five year career plan and specific one-year objectives that can be reviewed with the mentor on a regular basis. 

  • The Department of Medicine has implemented an academic planning process for every incoming faculty member and for individuals within their first five years of appointment. Each of the individuals in this cohort will be asked to prepare an Academic Planning Document and review it with their formal mentor, the DDD and the hospital division/department head at one of the hospitals.
  • The academic planning document looks forward and helps to focus time, energy and resources towards achieving realistic goals. These goals should be matched with appropriate time allocations, a mentoring team and defined outcomes. This document will be completed by the individual, discussed with their formal mentor, reviewed by their department division director, hospital division director and/or physician-in-chief/hospital chief and revised together as appropriate. This document will be prepared annually, signed electronically by the faculty member and his/her mentor and both are encouraged to keep a copy. A copy is also sent to the faculty member's department division director, hospital division director and/or physician-in-chief/hospital chief. 

Academic Planning Document 

Process to Identify Mentors 

The identification of a formal mentor is a current requirement of the appointment process in the Department of Medicine.

  • A single formal mentor is required by each faculty member. This mentor participates in the completion of the annual planning document for each faculty member.
  • Each specific objective outlined in the annual planning document might identify a specific mentor. Through this process a mentor team will be identified for each new faculty member.
  • If the new recruit is a Toronto graduate or postgraduate, a formal mentor will be identified prior to appointment.
  • If the new recruit is not a local recruit and does not have a mentoring connection with a University of Toronto faculty member, the mentorship facilitator, department division director, hospital division director and/or physician-in-chief will work with the individual to identify at least one mentor within the first three months of the appointment.

Develop Materials and Training for Mentors 

As a component of improving mentoring, many programs train mentors in their roles. This includes providing a set of expectations for mentoring and specific advice for topics to cover in regular meetings with the mentee. Typically, mentor responsibilities include reviewing the junior faculty academic career plans and fine tuning the specific one year objectives.

Rewarding Mentors 

Mentors derive a number of rewards from the academic process. They have the opportunity to work with young investigators who contribute to the development of new scientific ideas. Mentors derive personal gratification from the processes supporting the development of young faculty. Mentoring is a responsible academic activity that should receive academic recognition. This requires tracking mentors' participation in the mentoring program and rewarding excellence. 

  • The Department keeps track of the formal mentors as part of faculty census data.
  • Department division directors, hospital division directors and physicians-in-chief can access this summary data on their faculty.
  • The Department of Medicine annually awards the Robert Hyland Award for Excellence in Mentorship. Nominations are open to all faculty.
  • The Department encourages institutional awards in mentoring to broaden the reward opportunities.
  • The teaching dossier and the annual activity report include mentoring as a reportable scholarly activity.

Evaluating a Mentoring Program  

The department evaluates the mentoring process through the implementation of a series of objective and subjective evaluation tools including:

  • faculty satisfaction survey conducted through the web every second year
  • quality of mentoring relationship as evaluated by self-reported surveys from mentors and mentees
  • feedback from mentoring workshop attendees
  • promotion rates
  • termination rates
  • success rates for Continuing Faculty Appointment Review
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