Medical Student Mentorship in Plastic Surgery: The Mentee’s Perspective

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Abstract

Background:

Mentorship is a universal concept that has a significant impact on nearly every surgical career. Although frequently editorialized, true data investigating the value of mentorship are lacking in the plastic surgery literature. This study evaluates mentorship in plastic surgery from the medical student perspective.

Methods:

An electronic survey was sent to recently matched postgraduate year–1 integrated track residents in 2014, with a response rate of 76 percent.

Results:

Seventy-seven percent of students reported a mentoring relationship. Details of the mentoring relationship were defined. Over 80 percent of students reported a mentor’s influence in their decision to pursue plastic surgery, and nearly 40 percent of students expressed interest in practicing the same subspecialty as their mentor. Benefits of the relationship were also described. Mentees value guidance around career preparation and advice and prioritized “a genuine interest in their career and personal development” above all other mentor qualities (p ≤ 1.6 × 10−16). Mentees prefer frequent, one-on-one interactions over less frequent interaction or group activities. Students did not prefer “assigned” relationships (91 percent), but did prefer “facilitated exposure.” Major barriers to mentorship included mentor time constraints and lack of exposure to plastic surgery. Indeed, significant differences in the presence of a mentoring relationship correlated with involvement of the plastic surgery department in the medical school curriculum.

Conclusions:

This study defines successes and highlights areas for improvement of mentorship of plastic surgery medical students. Successful mentorship may contribute to the future of plastic surgery, and a commitment toward this endeavor is needed at the local, departmental, and national leadership levels.

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