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|Year : 2012 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 326-327
Mentoring among medical students: A student's perspective
Department of Radiodiagnosis, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India
|Date of Submission||10-Jun-2012|
|Date of Decision||10-Sep-2012|
|Date of Acceptance||10-Sep-2012|
|Date of Web Publication||4-Jan-2013|
Department of Radiodiagnosis, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Udare A. Mentoring among medical students: A student's perspective. J Postgrad Med 2012;58:326-7
The first day at medical school represents the culmination of the stupendous efforts every medical aspirant puts in over the years and is indeed is the realization of a long sought after dream for many. It seems that the journey has had an apt ending. Soon we realize that it is not the end, rather it is the commencement of our voyage into the new and unfamiliar paths. The journey of becoming a medical graduate!
The undergraduate student faces a continuum of challenges during his medical school. The transition from learning basic sciences and languages in high school to getting acquainted to the intricate details of the human anatomy and physiology in the first year of Medicine is a daunting task in itself. We are faced with a multitude of questions ranging from which books to read, should we go ahead and take up research along with the regular academics, if yes what should be the topic, whom should we approach as a guide, how can we strike a balance between the time we allocate to academics and clinical skills in the wards, how should we go about to decide which specialty we should select for our post-graduation and what all efforts are needed to get into the same, should we elect for a foreign university so on and so forth. And each time we have wondered whom to ask and wish we had someone who has experienced similar turmoil to guide us through. That is when a mentor comes into play.
Out of the many definitions of mentoring the one that is widely accepted is the one proposed by the Standing Committee on Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education (SCOPME): "A process whereby an experienced, highly regarded, empathetic person (the mentor) guides another (usually younger) individual (the mentee) in the development and re-examination of their own ideas, learning, and personal and professional development. The mentor; who often (but not necessarily) works in the same organization or field as the mentee; achieves this by listening or talking in confidence to the mentee".  Simply put, mentorship indicates a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced individual helps a less experienced individual to adapt to and flourish in the novel environment the latter is exposed to. The term "mentorship" has been quite synonymously used with the teacher, coach, supervisor, preceptor, or role model. However unlike these, a mentor guides us to realize our own unconscious competences, and help strengthen the existing beliefs and value through their own experience. It has been described as "a cost-free career-promotion strategy based on a personal relationship in a professional context". 
Mentoring programs are well established in the western world. These programs are aimed at providing career counseling, developing professionalism, supporting students in their personal growth, increasing interest in research, supporting an academic career and fostering their interest in a specialty for which a future shortage is projected.  In India, premier institutions such as the IIT's and the IIM's have pioneered such mentoring programs to help their students. These consist of dedicated cells wherein, a professor or a senior student is assigned a student candidate to guide him not only during his years at the institution but all along his career thereafter. However, presently such programs have not yet gained popularity in undergraduate medical schools in India. There are several studies that have analyzed the concept of a mentor-mentee relationship in the medical field and its positive impact on the overall development of the mentee. A recent review of literature of the mentoring programs in medicine showed that the mentors served as role models and contributed to the improvement of professionalism and performance in their mentees.  It helped them to choose the right career based on their abilities and interests and they also felt well supported at a personal level.  It is also important to realize that mentoring is not a one-way phenomenon, but it represents a symbiotic relationship between the two individuals. It helps the mentors achieve a higher level of personal satisfaction, improve scholarly productivity, and establish dedicated cohorts who share similar interests and values. 
The undergraduate medical school is the foundation of our future career in medicine. It is at this crucial juncture that the role of a mentor is utmost needed, wherein he can help the mentee develop the right kind of attitude and approach towards Medicine. In the subsequent years the mentor can provide relevant and precise information not only regarding academics and good clinical skills but also about the various available opportunities in clinical research which are often overlooked. The stress that a medical student goes through while juggling academics and personal life; often leads to underperformance and depression. The role of a mentor in helping the mentee take the rational decisions during these testing situations cannot be understated. While juniors and seniors share a good rapport in college, having a structured multi-tier system would make this practice more streamlined and organized. Seniors can volunteer and undertake the responsibility of mentoring each batch of new entrants on a one to one basis and be a part of their progress right from making them comfortable in the new environment to guiding them through their years in college. Each group of students can also be allotted a senior faculty member for further assistance. These groups can meet on a regular basis and discuss future prospects and share the academic as well as personal problems they face.
Everyone manages to go through the years of medical school eventually, but having a mentor would make the journey less complicated and more focused which would result in better overall development. The introduction of such mentoring programmes in undergraduate as well as post graduate medical schools can help medical students achieve both personal and professional growth.
| :: References|| |
|1.||Standing Committee on Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education (SCOPME). Supporting doctors and dentists at work. An enquiry into mentoring. London: SCOPME; 1998. |
|2.||Frei E, Stamm M, Buddeberg-Fischer B. Mentoring programs for medical students: A review of the PubMed literature 2000-2008.BMC Med Educ 2010;10:32. |
|3.||Coates WC. Being a Mentor: What's in It for Me?. Acad Emerg Med 2012;19:92-7. |