Background: Mentorship and sponsorship (a relationship of professional support and endorsement) are both teachable and learnable skills that are crucial for medical faculties to have in academic medicine. Unfortunately, these skills are rarely formally taught or measured as part of faculty development. Medical education has started to incorporate more structured mentoring (typically by assigning each student or intern to a mentor), but most programs still lack a meaningful set of tools to help evaluate and improve mentorship. In this study, we applied human-centered, design research techniques to characterize mentor knowledge, attitude, and behaviors using mixed methods.

Purpose: Characterize and evaluate the knowledge, skills, and applications of mentorship amongst academic physicians.

Description: This facility-wide human centered design project was geared towards revamping our graduate medical education mentorship program, sponsored through a grant from the Society of Hospital Medicine, and virtually facilitated by the Better Lab at UCSF. We gathered data using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews regarding experiences as mentors from a diverse sample of academic physicians. Qualitative data were analyzed using a grounded-theory approach and combined with quantitative data on mentorship skills, sponsorship skills, and understanding the role of both in professional advancement and improving equity.

Conclusions: Data indicated (a) 60% self-identified as not having adequate mentoring/sponsoring training with only 38% likely to seek out training. (b) 28% of faculty mentors identify as having no mentor of their own with 91% of all faculty desiring additional mentorship (c) Thematically accumulated barriers to good mentorship included high mentee to mentor ratio, faculty burn-out and subsequent disengagement, and lack of protected time.