Pragmatic Mentoring Strategies for the Busy Surgeon Scientist

Alexandra Highet, Daniel E. Kendrick, Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi, Ann Vitous, Katherine Yang, Caleb Ernst, Brian C. George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: The value of research mentorship in academic medicine is well-recognized, yet there is little practical advice for how to develop and sustain effective mentoring partnerships. Gaining research skill and mentorship is particularly critical to success in academic surgery, yet surgeon scientists are challenged in their mentorship efforts by time constraints and lack of education on how to mentor. To address this gap, this study explored the strategies that award-winning faculty mentors utilize in collaborating with their medical student mentees in research. Design, Setting, and Participants: For this qualitative study, the authors invited physician recipients of an institution-wide mentorship award to participate in individual, semi-structured interviews during July and August 2018. Following interview transcription, the authors independently coded the text and collaboratively identified common mentoring strategies and practices via a process of thematic analysis. RESULTS: Nine physician mentors, representing a mix of genders, medical specialties and types of research (basic science, clinical, translational, and health services), participated in interviews. The authors identified 12 strategies and practices from the interview transcripts that fell into 5 categories: Initiating the partnership; Determining the research focus; Providing project oversight; Developing mentee research competence; and Supporting mentee self-efficacy. CONCLUSION: Award-winning mentors employ a number of shared strategies when mentoring medical trainees in research. These strategies can serve as a guide for academic surgeons who wish to improve their research mentoring skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-707
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of surgical education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Association of Program Directors in Surgery


  • Medical education
  • Medical student
  • Mentorship
  • Research


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