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Fam Med. 2011 Mar;43(3):193-7.

Issues important to the research mentoring relationship.

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Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA.



Family medicine lacks a critical mass of experienced, federally funded researchers to serve as research mentors for young investigators. The purpose of this study was to identify issues important when mentoring junior investigators.


Eight experienced primary care investigators, known for their excellence in mentorship, were recruited from the Primary Care Research Methods and Statistics Conference. After participation in a focus group exploring issues related to the quality, techniques, effectiveness, and efficiency of mentorship, subjects completed three rounds of Delphi using variables identified during the focus group to develop a comprehensive, stable list of 72 mentoring strategies.


Five items received perfect ratings of agreement: (1) primary task to help protégé identify long-term goals and strategize to meet them, (2) difference exists between mentoring and collaboration, (3) assigning mentor is not a guarantee that the relationship will work, (4) mentor can provide expertise and encouragement but not ensure a desired outcome, and (5) mentor who does not care about the protégé is not likely to be effective. The strategies with which the mentors disagreed included mentor-protégé characteristics and differences.


Mentors emphasized the importance of long-term goals, difference between mentorship and collaboration, and commitment from the mentor.

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