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Fam Med. 2011 Apr;43(4):240-7.

The research mentoring relationship in family medicine: findings from the grant generating project.

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1
Department of Family Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, 23298, USA. drlongo@vcu.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Mentoring has been acknowledged as a critical factor in the development of family medicine academicians. Specific aims were to describe the research mentoring in family medicine from the experience of both mentors and protégés and identify characteristics that mentors and protégés associated with a successful mentoring relationship. The Grant Generating Project (GGP) Fellowship, a training and mentoring program for family medicine researchers, provided a natural opportunity to study these issues and better understand what is successful in research mentoring.

METHODS:

Separate mentor and protégés surveys measured perceptions about the extent of mentoring assistance, perceived relationship success, costs and benefits of the relationship, and the nature and duration of the relationship. Correlations between demographic characteristics and the mentoring relationship were also examined.

RESULTS:

Mentors were generally professors (78%), male (82%), with a mean age of 53 years, while protégés were assistant professors (53%) and almost evenly divided between male (51%) and female (49%) with mean age of 44 years. Both mentors and protégés describe the mentoring relationship in general to be of benefit to both mentor and protégé. Nonetheless, statistically significant differences between mentor-protégé responses were found for nine of the 20 survey items. Mentors tended to give higher values in their ratings of specific mentor-protégé relationship variables. Significant positive correlations were found between benefit, quality of the relationship, and mentoring assistance and the number of hours per month of mentor-protégé interaction, the number of mentor-protégé meetings per month, and the number of months the mentor worked with the protégé. Mentor-protégé acquaintance before the GGP fellowship was significantly correlated with cost, benefit, and mentoring assistance.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study shows agreement between mentor and protégé regarding the mentors' ability to promote the protégés, provide important technical skills, convey respect for the protégés, and serve as a friend and role model. Protégés tend to be more connected with their colleagues and with their profession, perhaps in part because the mentoring relationship facilitates networking opportunities provided by the mentor. In particular, excellent mentors can provide protégés with opportunities to meet other influential scholars at conferences and/or through various forms of correspondence. Such relationships can be helpful to the protégé in developing a constellation of mentoring relationships that may result in more successful research careers. Future studies should examine the relationship upon various outcomes.

PMID:
21499996
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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