Institutional Incentives for Mentoring at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Universities: Associations With Mentors’ Perceptions and Time Spent Mentoring

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Abstract

Purpose

Limited empirical attention to date has focused on best practices in advanced research mentoring in the health services research domain. The authors investigated whether institutional incentives for mentoring (e.g., consideration of mentoring in promotion criteria) were associated with mentors’ perceptions of mentoring benefits and costs and with time spent mentoring.

Method

The authors conducted an online survey in 2014 of a national sample of mentors of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D) mentored career development award recipients who received an award during 2000–2012. Regression analyses were used to examine institutional incentives as predictors of perceptions of benefits and costs of mentoring and time spent mentoring.

Results

Of the 145 mentors invited, 119 (82%) responded and 110 (76%) provided complete data for the study items. Overall, mentors who reported more institutional incentives also reported greater perceived benefits of mentoring (P = .03); however, more incentives were not significantly associated with perceived costs of mentoring. Mentors who reported more institutional incentives also reported spending a greater percentage of time mentoring (P = .02). University incentives were associated with perceived benefits of mentoring (P = .02), whereas VA incentives were associated with time spent mentoring (P = .003).

Conclusions

Institutional policies that promote and support mentorship of junior investigators, specifically by recognizing and rewarding the efforts of mentors, are integral to fostering mentorship programs that contribute to the development of early-career health services researchers into independent investigators.

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