Junior faculty wishing to achieve successful careers in academic medicine face many challenges. To facilitate faculty in their career development, the authors implemented and evaluated an innovative collaborative, or peer-group, mentoring program at their medical school. Based on Rogerian and adult learning principles, the program incorporated development of skills in key areas for career development, a structured values-based approach to career planning, and instruction in scholarly writing. The 80-hour program has so far been conducted twice over two academic years (1999-2001) with 18 faculty (50% women). Quantitative and qualitative methods were used in the evaluation. Program attendance was 89%. All participants completed a written academic development plan, an exercise they rated as valuable. They also completed an average of one to three manuscripts for publication. Evaluation data highlighted the critical nature of a supportive learning environment and the reasons participants chose to attend the program consistently. Key meaningful outcomes for most participants were: (1) identification of their core values; (2) a structured process of short- and long-term career planning based on these core values; (3) the development of close, collaborative relationships; (4) development of skills in such areas as gender and power issues, negotiation and conflict management, scholarly writing, and oral presentation, and (5) improved satisfaction linked to participants' decisions to remain in academic medicine. Participants developed a sense of personal transformation and empowerment. The authors conclude that collaborative mentoring offers a new approach to faculty development that addresses limitations of traditional approaches in a satisfying and cost-effective way.
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