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INTRODUCTION

The word “mentor” comes from Homer’s Odyssey, in which Odysseus entrusts his young son to the care of his close friend, Mentor. A transitional figure in the youth’s growth, Mentor acts as the son’s guardian and wise advisor, and through their mutual relationship the son develops his own identity. Good mentors have played key roles in the history of medicine and discovery, in the development of young doctors, and in the institutions that train physicians.

Today’s health care leaders underscore the importance of mentoring on career choice as well as on career advancement and productivity. Yet, the available evidence shows that a minority of medical students and faculty have mentors. Because Hospital Medicine is a young specialty, peer mentorship is crucial to the success of the specialty.

PRACTICE POINT

Benefits of mentorship include:

  • Mentoring is a powerful predictor of academic advancement

  • Academic advancement and productivity promote the specialty of Hospital Medicine

  • Mentoring of medical students, trainees, and junior faculty facilitates recruitment and retention of hospitalists

  • Faculty members derive personal and professional satisfaction from mentoring trainees

THE VALUE OF MENTORING IN MEDICINE

Surveys of faculty and health care leaders and a systematic review identified several potential benefits of mentoring in medicine. Mentoring influences career choice, including medical students’ specialty selections; promotes career advancement; increases scholarly productivity; develops physicians’ leadership skills; shapes professional ethics; fosters development of academic departments, institutions, and professional societies; and increases career satisfaction. Clinician-educators view mentoring as an important determinant of promotion and development, and are more likely to remain in academia if they are mentored.

While most studies have focused on the benefits to the mentee, potential benefits to the mentor should not be underestimated. Faculty members derive personal and professional satisfaction from mentoring residents, and mentoring may facilitate promotion, result in special awards, and increase scholarly productivity (Table 39-1).

TABLE 39-1Benefits of Mentoring

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