Although residency curricula in most countries require that residents engage in scholarly activity, in practice the latter is frequently insufficiently addressed for a variety of reasons. Given the multiple benefits gained from such an engagement, there is currently an unmet need to optimize the conditions that will facilitate participation in research. Previous studies have identified several obstacles in conducting research during residency. Together with lack of time or interest, funding issues and absence of research curriculum in institutions, underdeveloped mentorship has also been recognized as a potential reason for not taking up research.
Achieving and maintaining a fruitful and effective relationship between mentor and mentee is a formidable yet challenging task. Notwithstanding the fact that there is no universal “one size fits all” strategy for a successful mentorship, from the mentee’s point of view, choice of the appropriate mentor is crucial. The mentor is the person with whom the resident-scholar will have to cooperate on a regular basis, seek advice for scientific problems and expect motivation and support; accordingly, this dyadic relationship serves both a professional but also a - equally important- psychosocial function which will evolve through various phases. Thus, it should be governed by honesty, mutual respect, trust and understanding. Moreover, since a mentee carries little or no research experience, a mentor has to be directive and constitute a source of inspiration (role modeling) without becoming paternalistic; at the same time, successful mentoring is all about empowering the mentee to liberate his/her creative forces while progressing to academic independence.
In terms of efficacy, milestones and ultimate goals have to be specified early on in the mentoring process. Expectations from both sides need to be expressed and aligned between mentor and mentee, even in writing, in order to avoid potential mismatches; this alignment helps to predict that the scholar will remain on schedule and interim goals will be met. During the course of the mentoring process, frequent meetings at regular intervals to ensure that ongoing projects remain “on track” are of paramount importance and should be accompanied by mutual feedback between mentor and mentee.
Collectively, successful and effective mentoring in academic medicine demands a considerable amount of time, effort and a strong will by both sides. To improve outcomes in the future, international authorities could invest in promoting mentoring through the organization of training sessions for both mentors and mentees.
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Disclosure of Interest None Declared