Characterization of mentorship programs in departments of surgery in the United States

Melina R. Kibbe, Carlos A. Pellegrini, Courtney M. Townsend, Irene B. Helenowski, Marco G. Patti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Importance: Mentorship is considered a key element for career satisfaction and retention in academic surgery. Stakeholders of an effective mentorship program should include the mentor, the mentee, the department, and the institution. Objective: The objective of this study was to characterize the status of mentorship programs in departments of surgery in the United States, including the roles of all 4 key stakeholders, because to our knowledge, this has never been done. Design, Setting, and Participants: A surveywas sent to 155 chairs of departments of surgery in the United States in July 2014 regarding the presence and structure of the mentorship program in their department. The analysis of the data was performed in November 2014 and December 2014. Main Outcomes and Measures: Presence and structure of a mentorship program and involvement of the 4 key stakeholders. Results: Seventy-six of 155 chairs responded to the survey, resulting in a 49% response rate. Forty-one of 76 of department chairs (54%) self-reported having an established mentorship program. Twenty-five of 76 departments (33%) described no formal or informal pairing of mentors with mentees. In 62 (82%) and 59 (78%) departments, no formal training existed for mentors or mentees, respectively. In 42 departments (55%), there was no formal requirement for the frequency of scheduled meetings between the mentor and mentee. In most departments, mentors and mentees were not required to fill out evaluation forms, but when they did, 28 of 31 were reviewed by the chair (90%). In 70 departments (92%), no exit strategy existed for failed mentor-mentee relationships. In more than two-thirds of departments, faculty mentoring efforts were not recognized formally by either the department or the institution, and only 2 departments (3%) received economic support for the mentoring program from the institution. Conclusions and Relevance: These data show that only half of departments of surgery in the United States have established mentorship programs, and most are informal, unstructured, and do not involve all of the key stakeholders. Given the importance of mentorship to career satisfaction and retention, development of formal mentorship programs should be considered for all academic departments of surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-906
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA Surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterization of mentorship programs in departments of surgery in the United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this