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Career support in medicine: experiences with a mentoring program for junior physicians at a university hospital

Author(s): Buddeberg-Fischer, Barbara | Vetsch, Esther | Mattanza, Guido

Journal: Psycho-Social-Medicine
ISSN 1614-2934

Volume: 1;
Start page: Doc04;
Date: 2004;
Original page

Purpose: Until now, mentoring has hardly been used by the medical profession in German-speaking countries as a means of supporting junior physicians in their careers. The aim of the mentoring project described here was to obtain information for promoting and developing future mentoring programs at a university hospital.Method: A new integrated mentoring model was developed and implemented over a 12-month period. Peer groups were advised on the mentoring process by mentors and program managers. A total of eight mentoring groups (40 peers) from four departments of a university hospital took part in the project: four voluntarily, and four on a compulsory basis. The evaluation was carried out using qualitative methods for analysis of the group protocols and the focus group interviews with the participants.Results: Group discussions revealed that individual mentees, young female physicians in particular, developed concrete career plans and initiated further career-relevant steps. Some mentees - again more women than men - were promoted to senior physician posts. Further measurable career steps were increased research and publishing activity, and research fellowships abroad. The group process developed in five typical phases (forming, storming, norming, performing, and finalizing), which differed according to whether the groups had been formed on a voluntary or compulsory basis. In the evaluation interviews, mentees emphasized the following as effective mentoring factors: Concrete definition of own career goals; exchange of experiences within the peer groups; support and motivation from the mentors; and fostering of the group process by the program managers.Conclusion: Participation in mentoring programs has to be voluntary. Mentees are motivated, autonomous, goal-oriented and prepared to take action. Mentors serve as examples and advisers. They derive satisfaction from being held in high esteem, as well as from the advancement of their own careers. Program managers have experience in systems theory and group dynamics, structure the group processes, and evaluate the quality of the results. Hospital management should regard mentoring as a business strategy and a means of staff development and quality management, and provide the necessary resources. The mentoring program presented here is being extended to other departments of the hospital on the basis of the positive experiences it has offered.
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