Original Article

CME Article: Prevalence of, Qualities, and Barriers Associated with Mentoring Relationships from Medical Students’ Perspective: A Multi-Institutional Cross-Sectional Study

Authors: Andrew Sephien, MD, Leigh Hatch, MD, Jordan Karsch, MD, Karim Hanna, MD, Ambuj Kumar, MD, Danielle Gulick, PhD


Objectives: Reports of medical student mentorship prevalence range between 26% and 77%. This broad range likely reflects the tendencies of studies to focus on specific populations of medical students. There is little consensus about the characteristics of mentoring relationships among medical students. The primary goal of this study was to determine the reported prevalence of mentorship among medical students in the United States. The secondary goals were to assess the desired qualities of and barriers to successful mentoring from a medical student perspective.

Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was administered via Qualtrics to all medical students at participating accredited medical schools from July 2018 to March 2019. The questionnaire contained a subsection of questions that assessed the existence of mentoring, facilitators, and barriers in finding a mentor, and the desired qualities of a successful mentor.

Results: With a 94% completion rate, 369 (69%) of 532 medical students reported having a mentor. Adjusted analysis showed that fourth-year medical students were significantly more likely to have a mentor compared with first-year (odds ratio [OR] 2.65, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.49–4.73, P = 0.001), second-year (OR 2.07, 95% CI 1.14–3.76, P = 0.016), and third-year medical students (OR 2.16, 95% CI 1.2–3.90, P = 0.011). Compassion (64%) was the most commonly reported quality in a successful mentoring relationship. Lack of time from mentor (75%) was the most commonly reported barrier.

Conclusions: This study may serve as a guide to fostering more supportive mentoring relationships. Each mentoring relationship should be tailored to the needs of the mentee, however.

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