Mentorship is important to the career success and personal development of psychiatry residents and early to mid-career psychiatrists [1
]. For example, physician mentees report enhanced psychosocial support and career development compared to those without mentors [3
]. While mentorship provides important opportunities for networking, skill building, and enhancing confidence for mentees, mentors also benefit by gaining professional expertise, intellectual stimulation, and personal satisfaction from giving back and reflecting on their career and skill set [4
]. Despite the importance of mentorship to career success and productivity, fewer than half of medical students and one in five faculty reported having a mentor [6
Some studies elucidated that mentorship in healthcare may be particularly beneficial to female learners who face a number of unique challenges during their professional careers [7
]. With increasing demands at work and consequently greater difficulties in maintaining work-life balance, females reported career progress at a slower pace and lower career satisfaction than their male counterparts [9
]. Compared to female physicians, male physicians occupy most leadership positions in all areas of academic medicine, as well as work in higher paying institutions [11
]. Establishing a productive and meaningful relationship with a mentor may assist with many current and upcoming challenges faced by healthcare professionals.
There are a number of barriers to residents and other medical trainees actively seeking out mentorship in the literature that should be addressed. First, mentors report lack of compensation for their time in mentoring trainees, which affects both recruitment and retention of mentors [5
]. Essentially, most mentors do not get compensated with financial incentives or recognized by the academic institute for the time they spend with their mentee. Second, there is lack of recognition of mentorship as a formally recognized part of annual activity review [5
]. While some healthcare and educational institutions try to encourage formal and informal mentorship, research remains the fundamental criteria when being considered for tenure [14
]. Therefore, a mentoring relationship may not be prioritized when there is greater demand in research and clinical work for promotion. Third, junior faculty may have doubts about their abilities to mentor, if they underestimate their personal knowledge and skills [8
]. Healthcare institutions should act as an active participant in addressing these concerns surrounding mentorship and provide necessities to maximize mentorship within the healthcare community.
Department-led mentoring initiatives have been advocated as a means of ensuring access to mentorship to learners in psychiatry [15
]. Promoting effective mentoring could assist physicians and health sciences faculty in increasing career satisfaction while decreasing risk for burn-out [16
]. However, the barriers to natural mentor-mentee pairings and preferences for a formal program from more senior members in the department (i.e., faculty) and learners (i.e., psychiatry residents) need to be assessed to assist program developers to better understand the gap between mentorship need and actualization. Thus, the aim of this present study is to investigate the need and barriers to mentorship within an academic psychiatry department, surveying both psychiatry residents as mentees, and faculty members as mentors.
3.1. Participant Demographics
shows details on demographics. A total of 30 (67%) of 45 psychiatry residents completed the survey. One-third of residents (n
= 10; 33%) reported having a faculty member as a mentor in the department. Of the two-thirds of residents without mentors, almost all (n
= 19; 95%) wanted to receive mentorship from faculty. Given the literature acknowledging the needs for mentorship for female trainees, differences between males and females in terms of self-reported prevalence for mentorship were analyzed. In this sample of psychiatry residents, there were no significant gender differences in report of having a mentor or satisfaction with their mentor.
A total of 93 (27%) of 350 total faculty members completed the surveys. Of the 93 faculty respondents, most (n = 69; 73%) agreed or strongly agreed that mentorship is an important component for career success. However, less than half (n = 44; 47%) reported having been mentored by a more senior faculty member in the department. In this sample of faculty members, more female faculty respondents than male respondents reported having been mentored by senior faculty [X2 (1, N = 93) = 4.60, p < 0.05, ϕ = 0.22]. Male faculty members were more likely to express a lack of interest in having a mentor compared to female faculty [X2 (1, N = 93) = 4.31, p < 0.05, ϕ = 0.30]. Of those faculty members who were not mentored, approximately half of respondents (n = 23; 47%) wanted mentorship from a more senior faculty member within the department.
In terms of faculty respondents’ experiences as mentors, only 11% (n = 10) of faculty were currently mentoring a psychiatry resident. Half of faculty respondents who reported having never mentored a resident (n = 33; 59%) expressed interest in mentoring a psychiatry resident.
3.2. Barriers to Mentees Seeking Mentorship
Residents without mentors ranked the top barriers to actively seeking out a mentor as: (1) no previous experience with mentorship (n
= 9; 45%) and (2) lack of a formal program to match mentees with a mentor (n
= 7; 35%). Since there appears to be a gap between mentorship desire and actualization, faculty who were not mentoring, and residents who were not receiving mentorship, ranked the top barriers of mentorship in their experience (see Figure 1
Approximately half of faculty respondents (n = 23; 47%) who were not receiving mentorship wanted mentorship from a more senior faculty member or department leader. These faculty members reported (1) lack of time (n = 26), (2) lack of a formal program matching mentees with mentors (n = 17), and (3) not being aware of available mentors (n = 14), as the top barriers to actively seeking a mentor.
One interesting finding was that part-time faculty were less likely to be involved as mentors and mentees in the department. Part-time faculty reported that they were less likely to be mentored (as mentees) by a senior faculty member or department leader compared to full-time faculty [X2 (1, N = 93) = 7.786, p < 0.01, ϕ = 0.289]. Moreover, part-time faculty members were less likely to report having mentored a psychiatry resident [X2 (1, N = 63) = 4.399, p < 0.05, ϕ = 0.217] but expressed equal interest, compared to full-time faculty, in mentoring a psychiatry resident [X2 (1, N = 56) = 1.992, p > 0.05].
3.3. Preferences in Mentorship
Residents and faculty ranked the same components of a mentorship program as preferential: (1) the ability to choose your own mentor (n = 9, 30%; n = 28; 32%, for resident and faculty, respectively), (2) training sessions for all mentors (n = 7, 23%; n = 20, 23%), and (3) faculty mentoring profiles being available on a webpage to facilitate matching interests (n = 7, 23%; n = 11, 13%).
Most faculty members (n = 64; 69%) indicated that they would be interested in participating in mentor training. Female faculty respondents were significantly more likely to express interest in participating in mentoring workshops than were male participants [X2 (1, N = 93) = 7.04, p < 0.01, ϕ = 0.28]. If mentoring training was implemented, most faculty members (n = 64; 69%) indicated that they would be interested in participating. Faculty respondents selected (1) “skills and competency, effective ways to be a good mentor/mentee” (n = 67; 29%), (2) “helpful tools and resources mentors can turn to” (n = 44; 20%), and (3) “maximizing mentorship with limited time” (n = 43; 19%) as the top three areas of focus in a mentoring training curriculum.
3.4. Qualitative Data Results
A number of qualitative themes emerged in the analysis of responses from psychiatry residents and faculty. The themes were summarized below and qualitative data is supplied in Appendix A
3.4.1. Fostering a Culture That Encourages Mentorship
Several residents and faculty identified a paucity of programs for facilitating mentoring and they highlighted the importance of fostering a culture that encourages mentorship and psychosocial support in the department. The following quote from a resident highlights this theme:
“I think creating a culture where mentorship is encouraged is already a big step”.
Another faculty member also expressed the importance of mentorship in the department:
“I did not have [a mentor] and think it has negatively affected my entire academic career. I know now I should have done a lot of things differently”.
3.4.2. Seeking Mentors Not Directly Involved in Supervision
Faculty and residents identified several benefits of having mentors who are not directly involved with day-to-day clinical supervision. Reasons identified by the respondents included bringing a different learning perspective, different areas of clinical interest, and less conflict of interest. To illustrate this theme, one faculty member commented:
“Matching residents…with mentors who will have no implications on their performance and future career standing so as to minimize power struggle”.
3.4.3. Mentor-Mentee Pairings
Many respondents were concerned that a pre-arranged pairing in a formal mentorship program would present a barrier to forming a meaningful relationship. Some faculty members commented that they would unlikely participate in a program that assigns mentorship pairings and their preference is for personal selection for a mentor.
One faculty respondent suggested developing faculty mentoring profiles, as a platform to help mentees identify and seek out mentors within the department whose research, clinical, and personal interests fit the mentee’s needs.
“I think that a sort of ‘catalogue’ of interested mentors who describe the knowledge, skills and opportunities that they bring would be helpful to allow individuals who are seeking mentorship to find someone of interest.”
3.4.4. Establishing Structure in Mentoring Relationships
Faculty respondents emphasized the importance of goal setting to ensure productivity is achieved at different time points in the relationship. Some faculty respondents reported previous experiences with a mismatch of expectations in the mentoring relationship and provided numerous suggestions to align expectations, including identifying the mentor and mentee’s needs and limitations, defining progress and frequency of meetings, and ensuring both parties are aware of appropriate mannerisms (e.g., timeliness, responsibilities in each meeting). Some faculty members and residents have expressed that in developing a mentoring program, one should consult existing models to gain additional ideas for improvement. Moreover, some faculty members expressed the concern that time is limited and the clear setting of goals and expectations during mentorship sessions should be made clear.
This study identified barriers and needs for mentoring from the perspectives of psychiatry residents and faculty in one academic psychiatry department. While a substantial number of psychiatry residents and faculty members perceived mentorship as an important component of career success, less than half reported being mentored. Furthermore, a substantial number of faculty members expressed interest in mentoring a resident, highlighting the need for academic departments to facilitate mentorship pairings. These results, along with suggestions provided in the qualitative section, suggest the demand for a list of available mentors for mentees to reach in order to allow natural pairings to occur. Multiple initiatives were identified as a potential means of facilitating mentor pairings. The development of faculty mentoring profiles addresses multiple needs of mentees in the department, as they may be useful to facilitate natural pairings and allow mentees to choose a mentor.
Interestingly, this study showed that female faculty were more likely to report an ongoing mentoring relationship with a mentor in the department than were male faculty, and female faculty were less likely to express a lack of interest in mentorship than males. Female faculty were also significantly more likely to express interest in participating in a mentoring workshop than were male faculty members. Taken together, these results suggest mentorship may be more highly valued by female faculty in the department.
The results of the faculty survey revealed that part-time faculty were less likely to be mentors for learners and less likely to be mentored by a more senior faculty member in the department. Academic healthcare institutions may benefit from recruiting a greater number of part-time faculty as active mentors in the department for psychiatry residents. These mentors may represent experts in the field who have less direct supervision over the resident’s work. As Straus and colleagues [5
] suggested, providing financial remuneration and annual review may promote both full-time and part-time faculty members to be more directly involved with mentorship.
This paper uniquely surveyed faculty as both mentors and mentees to identify reasons for not actively seeking out a mentor and mentoring a learner. One of the main barriers identified was a lack of time to engage in mentoring. This finding is consistent with previous literature that also suggests that time constraints are increasing and allocating time for mentoring is increasingly difficult [5
]. A formalized curriculum that recognizes mentoring as a part of annual review may allow faculty members to address the barriers of providing more free time and aiding their professional advancement. Furthermore, the majority of faculty members would participate in mentor training. Mentor training can also be implemented as a part of the educational curriculum, which serves as both a source to increase mentoring competency and promotes a culture in which mentoring is valued [9
The importance of fostering an environment where mentorship is encouraged within a department would influence mentees to seek out mentors. Some of these mentoring initiatives may include mentor training, providing faculty mentoring profiles that list potential mentors for residents and junior faculty, initiating a mentoring program where mentees can choose their mentor, and formally recognizing mentorship as part of the educational curriculum for annual review. Residents and faculty member also suggested that mentoring initiatives should encourage mentors to align expectations early on and allow mentees to seek mentors not directly involved in supervision.
While informative, this study is not without limitations. Unfortunately, the faculty response rate was lower than expected. However, as completion of both surveys was voluntary, respondents may represent a group of individuals who have greater interest and preferences for mentorship.
This study shows the needs, preferences, and recommendations for mentorship in a psychiatry department of a large, academic healthcare institute. Program initiatives that foster mentorship could be economical, as a three-hour department-initiated mentoring workshop may enhance mentoring competency [18
]. Overall, the recommendations in this study can help inform the building of a department-initiated mentoring curriculum for psychiatry residents and faculty members.