#KeyLIMEPodcast 334: What would Telemachus say?

This mixed methods study, introduced by Linda, looks at mentoring among CEs. In particular, their aim was to explore their experiences as mentees; examine the perceived quality, impact and nature of mentoring on their career; and, determine which specific models of mentoring impacted their attitude towards mentoring.

Listen in to hear what they found out. 



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Nemeth et. al., Exploring Mentoring Experiences, Perceptions, and Needs of General Internal Medicine Clinician Educators Navigating Academia: a Mixed-Methods Study. 2021. J Gen Intern Med. May;36(5):1229-1236   DOI: 10.1007/s11606-020-06310-2


Linda Snell (@LindaSMedEd)


Mentoring is a part of academic life and has been linked to mentees’ career development, professional advancement, personal growth, job satisfaction, completion of scholarly projects, successful publication, and faculty retention.

Clinician educators have specific roles (see Sherbino et al., Acad Med) and likely have related mentoring needs and preferences, however the quality and adequacy of mentoring focusing specifically on CEs is not well studied. The model of ‘one senior mentor’ may not work in smaller programs or those with few CEs, where models such as mentoring networks, peer mentoring, virtual mentoring, and group mentoring may be as or more effective.

In particular, we know little about CEs’ perceptions of mentoring adequacy re: educational development and career advancement. Wouldn’t it be nice to rethink a mentoring paradigm to meet the needs of CEs, before designing mentoring initiatives for them?


“(1) explore general internal medicine CEs’ experiences as mentees within various mentoring models;
(2) examine the perceived quality, nature, and impact of mentoring on career development;
(3) determine whether specific models of mentoring impact their attitudes towards mentoring.”

Key Points on the Methods

‘Sequential / concurrent’ mixed-methods study design
Participants: Society of General Internal Medicine members identifying themselves as CEs. (n=1094)
1. online survey, anonymous, mainly univariate analysis, multiple group comparisons, post hoc analyses using z-tests to detect differences in proportions among multiple categories
2. ‘Purposeful sampling’: volunteers from within the survey sample participated a semi-structured in person 60 m focus group at the society annual meeting. These focus groups intended to be complementary to the survey data. Appropriate coding and thematic analysis.
[FG questions: how mentors impacted professional development? How mentees and mentors benefit from the mentoring relationship? Describe the different types of effective mentoring? Importance of multiple mentors? Opinions of peer mentoring?]

Interestingly, the IRB ‘designated this study as exempt from review.’
No reflexivity statement.

Key Outcomes

139 survey respondents (37% RR for those who opened e mail) – range of age, acad rank, # of mentors, women > men.
20 focus group participants

Reasons for mentoring: career advancement/promotion, deciding which professional opportunities
to pursue, and developing educational products. Different purposes for junior and senior faculty: junior faculty used mentoring sessions to discuss career progression.

With perceived high-quality mentor relationships, peer mentorship was viewed as adequate, as beneficial for career and as being challenged to become a better CE

FG themes: (1) A mentoring team promotes career advancement: including task as a sponsor
(2) peer mentors are important at every stage of a CE’s career, especially more senior faculty: “to forge close professional relationships, create a collegial culture, a safe space to discuss challenges to professional growth, foster collaboration on projects, and allow a team of peers to spur each other on.”
(3) there is inadequate mentoring specific to CEs, who have specific academic challenges, : ‘assigned’ mentors may not be helpful
(4) mentoring needs protected time and skill development, ‘not innate’, especially mid career faculty need mentor training

Highlighted concepts:
(1) need mentoring that targets specific goals and aspirations of CEs, and traditional dyadic mentoring may not work
(2) the power of peer mentoring, especially for mid-career CEs, leadership mentoring
(3) the mentoring needs at different career stages of educators,
(4) need for professional development of mentors and mentees: listening, reflecting, challenging, supporting

Key Conclusions

The authors conclude … ‘The traditional dyadic mentoring relationship may not adequately address all professional needs of CEs. A mentoring team [or peer mentoring] can provide valuable perspectives on career goals. Peer mentoring can be powerful for professional growth. Mentoring needs change at different career stages and training in mentoring skills is essential.’

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