University shares lessons learned from 23 years of faculty mentoring
MelissaJenco, News Content Editor
Mentoring pediatrics faculty can reduce burnout, improve tenure rates and help universities
retain valuable employees, according to experts at the University of Arkansas for
Medical Sciences (UAMS).
After two decades of fine-tuning their program, they are sharing lessons they’ve learned
about successful mentoring and encouraging others to adopt similar programs.
“Institutional investment in mentoring and career development translates directly
to increased academic productivity, which in turn generates increased research funding,
clinical revenue, high-quality educational programs, and importantly, enhances retention
of highly qualified individuals for service in leadership positions,” authors wrote
in “An Adaptable Pediatrics Faculty Mentoring Model” (Cranmer JM, et al. Pediatrics. April 18, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2017-3202).
Under the UAMS program started in 1994, all junior faculty are mentored regardless
of work hours or whether they are seeking tenure. Each is part of a mentoring committee
that typically consists of three advanced rank volunteer faculty mentors with varying
levels of experience, allowing new mentors to learn from the others.
The committees have access to online handbooks, workshops and seminars. Twice a year,
they meet to discuss their junior faculty member’s progress in areas like clinical
service, teaching and research as well as issues like work-life balance and planning
for promotion. Each meeting is documented using a standardized template to help assess
the mentee’s progress.
Ultimately, the committee and department leadership will recommend the junior faculty
member be reviewed by the department’s promotion and tenure committee as an opportunity
for feedback one or two years before consideration by the institution’s promotion
and tenure committee.
When junior faculty members are promoted to associate professors, they can become
“In our ‘pay it forward’ culture, 100% of the graduates of the program accept the
invitation,” authors wrote.
In 23 years, more than 250 faculty members have been mentored, and the program boasts
a 95% success rate for promotions. Mentoring program leaders conduct annual surveys
to assess the program and have found faculty members feel supported and valued.
The UAMS team said its program can be adapted by small or large departments and provide
additional advice, rationale and templates to help departments create their own programs.
“The traditional hierarchical ‘sink or swim’ approach has been increasingly abandoned
as leaders in academic medicine recognize the importance of nurturing their investment
and preventing the substantial cost of losing productive faculty members,” authors
wrote. “Career development, academic success, and professional fulfillment are more
likely to be achieved with positive mentorship that supports the individual and collective
academic advancement of its participants and fosters strong collegial and social relationships
within the entire academic medicine community.”