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Acad Med. 2004 Sep;79(9):865-72.

Assessing the role of influential mentors in the research development of primary care fellows.

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Mailstop F-443, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, PO Box 6508, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.



To assess the association between mentorship and both subsequent research productivity and career development among primary care research fellows.


In 1998, using a self-administered questionnaire, the authors surveyed 215 fellows who graduated from 25 National Research Service Award (NRSA) primary care research programs between 1988-1997 to assess quantitative aspects and qualitative domains of their mentorship experience during fellowship training.


A total of 139 fellows (65%) responded to mentorship questions a median of four years after their fellowship. Thirty-seven fellows (26.6%) did not have an influential mentor, 42 (30.2%) reported influential but not sustained mentorship, and 60 (43.2%) had influential and sustained mentorship. Individuals with influential mentorship spent more time conducting research (p =.007), published more papers (p =.003), were more likely to be the principal investigator on a grant (p =.008), and more often provided research mentorship to others (72.5% versus 66.7% of those with unsustained mentorship, and 36.4% of those with no influential mentor, p =.008). After controlling for other predictors, influential and sustained mentorship remained an important determinant of career development in research. On qualitative analysis, fellows identified three important domains of mentorship: the relationship between mentor and fellow (such as guidance and support), professional attributes of the mentor (such as reputation), and personal attributes of the mentor (such as availability and caring).


Influential and sustained mentorship enhances the research activity of primary care fellows. Research training programs should develop and support their mentors to ensure that they assume this critical role.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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