Many universities are looking for strategies to improve the diversity of their faculty and the institutional climate. Appropriate mentoring is a factor known to be critical to teacher satisfaction, but many teachers, especially women and those from under-represented racial and ethnic backgrounds, do not clearly have access to high-quality mentorship. To address this issue, the Faculty Affairs Office at the University of California at San Diego Health Sciences has developed a formal Faculty Mentor Training Program (FMTP), which they hope other universities will be inspired to replicate. .
In an article published online on December 23, 2021 in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Sciences, FMTP leadership detailed the design and success of the program in improving the quality of mentorship and teacher satisfaction, especially among under-represented faculty.
“Our goal was to create an opportunity for all faculty to benefit from high quality, effective mentorship,” said study lead author JoAnn Trejo, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the ‘UC San Diego School of Medicine and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Affairs of the Faculty of Health Sciences at UC San Diego. “This has never been done before at the health system level, but now that we have developed and tested this approach, it can be applied to any medical school in the country.”
Trejo and his colleagues set out to establish an evidence-based mentorship program that all faculty, including physicians, researchers and educators, would have access to. Most of all, they hoped it would help bridge the gap in mentoring women, LGBTQ and other under-represented faculty.
Trejo says hiring diverse teachers is just the first step, but making them feel welcome and a sense of belonging to the community is what really impacts their success.
“Good mentorship involves being able to connect with a person in an authentic way and have confidence that they have your best interests in mind,” Trejo said. “These types of relationships may not be so easy to establish when there are cultural differences between mentor and mentee. So if you let the mentoring happen by chance, as we often do, the underrepresented people have fewer opportunities to be mentored by senior professors, and the quality of their mentorship is not as high. ”
FMTP has now trained 23 percent of all health science teachers between 2017 and 2020, and shows no signs of slowing down. Senior faculty mentors receive training in effective communication, promoting work-life balance, and equity and inclusion, and then develop their own mentoring philosophy statements. Junior mentees learn how to maximize their mentoring relationships and are encouraged to establish a career development plan. Senior and junior professors are then matched within their departments partly on the basis of clinical and research interests.
As a result of this three-year pilot program, data now reveals how the trainings influenced the culture at UC San Diego Health Sciences. FMTP participants were significantly more satisfied with the quality of mentorship received compared to non-participants, with the largest increase in satisfaction reported by under-represented faculty (from 38% satisfied in 2017 to 61% in 2019). Under-represented faculty also reported improved morale and a greater sense that their environment was supportive of under-represented faculty.
The surveys have also suggested some areas for continuous improvement. While senior professors reported feeling more confident in their ability to mentor women, LGBTQs and underrepresented professors, they were still unsure of meeting the expectations of these mentees. Future plans for FMTP now include additional sessions focused on culturally sensitive mentoring.
Since many of the mentoring skills taught by FMTP are universally applicable, Trejo believes this will continue to impact not only faculty, but all of their mentees, including medical students, residents, etc. fellows, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
“We are very excited about what we have learned and accomplished so far,” said Trejo. “I am amazed at the unique ways each department has successfully implemented formal mentoring, and we look forward to helping the program grow and grow at UC San Diego Health Sciences and beyond. “
Co-authors include Deborah Wingard, Virginia Hazen, Alexandra Bortnick, Karen Van Hoesen, and Vivian Reznik, all at UC San Diego, as well as Angela Byars-Winston and Christine Pfund at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
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JoAnn Trejo et al, A System-Wide Health Sciences Faculty Mentor Training Program Is Associated with Enhanced Effective Mentoring and Institutional Climate, Journal of Clinical and Translational Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1017 / cts.2021.883
Provided by the University of California – San Diego
Quote: Faculty Mentor Training Program Strengthens University Institutional Climate (2022, January 11) retrieved January 11, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-01-faculty-university-climate. html
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