Paying it forward: Four-year analysis of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma Mentoring Program

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Mentorship programs in surgery are used to overcome barriers to clinical and academic productivity, research success, and work-life balance. We sought to determine if the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) Mentoring Program has met its goals of fostering academic and personal growth in young acute care surgeons.

METHODS

We conducted a systematic program evaluation of EAST Mentoring Program's first 4 years. Demographic information was collected from EAST records, mentorship program applications, and mentee-mentor career development plans. We reviewed the career development plans for thematic commonalities and results of a structured, online questionnaire distributed since program inception. A mixed methods approach was used to better understand the program goals from both mentee and mentor perspectives, as well as attitudes and barriers regarding the perceived success of this career development program.

RESULTS

During 2012 to 2015, 65 mentoring dyads were paired and 60 completed the program. Of 184 surveys distributed, 108 were returned (57% response rate). Respondents were evenly distributed between mentees and mentors (53 vs. 55, p = 0.768). In participant surveys, mentoring relationships were viewed to focus on research (45%), “sticky situations” (e.g., communication, work-life balance) (27%), education (18%), or administrative issues (10%). Mentees were more focused on research and education versus mentors (74% vs. 50%; p = 0.040). Mentees felt that goals were “always” or “usually” met versus mentors (89% vs. 77%; p = 0.096). Two barriers to successful mentorship included time and communication, with most pairs communicating by email. Most respondents (91%) planned to continue the relationship beyond the EAST Mentoring Program and recommended the experience to colleagues.

CONCLUSION

Mentee satisfaction with the EAST Mentoring Program was high. Mentoring is a beneficial tool to promote success among EAST's young members, but differences exist between mentee and mentor perceptions. Revising communication expectations and time commitment to improve career development may help our young acute care surgeons.

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