In modern academic medicine, trainees may feel constant pressure to be productive and to advance. Having adequate guidance and direction provided by a mentor is increasingly important, especially to minorities and women, who are underrepresented at higher levels in academic medicine. Therefore, Disch (Crit Care Med. 2018;46:437-441) set out to address these issues. Mentorship in medicine is not a new idea; the majority of physicians report having had some degree of mentorship during their training.
However, literature is scarce on mentorship in academic medicine. In 2006, Sambunjak et al conducted a systematic review (JAMA. 2006;296:1103-1115) of 39 studies on the effects of mentorship in academic medicine. As Geraci and Thigpen point out in their 2017 review of mentoring in academic medicine (Am J Med Sci. 2017;353:151-157), there are not many quantifiable outcomes to measure in regard to mentorship, although some models have been proposed.
The literature surrounding mentorship in critical care medicine is even scarcer. Disch (Crit Care Med. 2018;46:437-441) attempts to define the nebulous term mentor, identifies the various forms of mentor-mentee relationships, and discusses the benefits of these relationships in academic medicine. She explores barriers to mentorship and offers trainees advice on how initiate a mentor-mentee relationship.
A mentor may have many roles, often at the same time, including advisor, advocate, coach, counselor, role model, sponsor, teacher, and tutor. Disch discussed the benefits of mentoring plainly by citing the Faculty Forward Engagement Survey (Med Educ. 2016;50:670-681), the results of which showed that respondents who had mentors were more likely to have greater interest in professional development, better clarity of their role, and satisfaction with their fit with their department.
Disch additionally makes the salient point that both women and underrepresented minorities have historically lacked good mentorship in medicine. Although women and minorities make up an increasing percentage of physicians and medical school faculty, they are underrepresented at higher ranks. She cites a study surveying over 1,100 women faculty members that found that only 54% felt they had a mentor. Disch offers advice on how trainees can obtain mentorship. She recommends that mentees reflect on what they want to gain from a mentor-mentee relationship and spend time identifying a person with experience in the area in which the mentee hopes to gain guidance.
Authors of this installment of Concise Critical Appraisal:
Marianne Wallis, MD, is a critical care medicine fellow at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
James H. Lantry III, MD, is an assistant professor of emergency and critical care medicine and the associate program director of the critical care fellowship at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Dr. Lantry is an editor of Concise Critical Appraisal.