Recent Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) data reports a surprisingly high rate of attrition (43%) for first-time assistant professors in academic medicine.  Attrition rates have been consistently higher for women and minorities in each of the 10-year cohorts tracked by the AAMC from 1981 to 1997.  A lack of mentorship is often cited as one of the primary reasons junior faculty leave academic medicine.

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Dr. Marc Drezner and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (UW ICTR) have developed a formal training program for mentoring junior faculty in clinical and translational research careers.  Co-Investigator and Senior Associate Director of the UW ICTR, Dr. Chris Sorkness (right), presented the findings from this program at our April WIMHS co-sponsored seminar “How to Use Multidimensional Mentoring to Ensure Success and Resilience in Research”.

UC Davis was one of 16 schools that participated in an NIH-funded randomized trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the mentorship training curriculum.  Mentors participating in the program were senior faculty members and their mentees included both postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty members.  Mentors that participated in the training demonstrated a significant increase in quantitative measures of mentoring competency and 87% described the complete 8-hour training as a valuable use of their time.  Outcome measures also included qualitative descriptions of the mentorship training experience from senior faculty:

 ”The training has helped me to understand that being a good mentor is not only about thriving in the science at any cost, but rather nurturing the growth of my mentees and understanding what they expect from this relationship and help them achieve it.” – Associate Professor, Yale University

Dr. Julie Schweitzer (left) Associate Director, UC Davis CTSC Mentored Clinical Research Training Program summarizes the importance of mentorship at UC Davis:

“As the PI for the UC Davis site I was very pleased that UCD and our CTSC contributed to the multi-site NIH randomized trial assessing the effects of mentor training on mentor-mentee relationships and performance. Traditionally, mentoring in academic medicine has not explicitly taught, let alone evaluated, what are the best practices for mentoring our scholars. The data from this trial demonstrate that mentor training, or as I like to think of it, sharing of best practices for mentoring, works.  Dr. Judy Turgeon and I, along with colleagues, are now in the process of implementing and modifying the curriculum from the multi-site study for the UCD schools of health sciences. Over 60 of our faculty have participated in the workshops we began to roll out this year with the revised curriculum.

An important part of our curriculum was devoted to discussions of mentoring women. The challenges faced by the mentors and the scholars were illuminating, but also revealed that we have a long way to go in how we can help female scholars be more successful in academic medicine. A frequent concern was the lack of women in senior roles who could serve as mentors and role models. We expect that that the mentoring workshops and the MentoringAcademy will contribute to addressing these issues as male and female faculty have genuine discussions and suggestions for how they can improve their mentoring practices so that we may see more women achieve success in academic medicine, here at UC Davis.”

Have you received adequate mentorship training?

If not, what resources would you like to see at UC Davis?

How can we encourage senior faculty to participate in mentorship training?

You can download the UW ICTR curriculum for mentor training for clinical and translational researchers at: https://mentoringresources.ictr.wisc.edu/