Differential mentorship for medical students: development, implementation and initial evaluation

Jennifer Kurré1, Monika Bullinger1, Corinna Petersen-Ewert2 and Andreas H. Guse3

1Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany

2Faculty of Economy and Social Affairs, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany

3Dean’s Office of Education and Students’ Affairs, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany

Submitted: 18/04/2012; Accepted: 27/10/2012; Published: 13/11/2012

Int J Med Educ. 2012; 3:216-224; doi: 10.5116/ijme.508b.9bd6

© 2012 Jennifer Kurré et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: The aim of this study was to develop a uniquely tailored mentoring program for medical students and evaluate the success of implementation.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey among medical students at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, in 2007 (response rate 74%, n=1235) was administered to explore student needs for an individual counseling service (mentoring program). These data were supplemented with additional qualitative data (telephone interviews (n=52) and expert panels). The success of implementation was evaluated according to publicity and participation within the target group.

Results: In total, 66% (n=798) of the students claimed an interest in a mentoring program. With regard to possible challenges related to the launching of a new program, awareness was frequently mentioned. Experts suggested the establishment of a differential mentoring program consisting of three parts that is tailored to students´ individual performance. Thus, a mentoring program providing individual and voluntary mentoring for all medical students was designed. The program attracted 40% (n=104) of medical students when it was launched in 2009. Participation increased continuously in 2010 (cohort 2009: 49%, n=150) and 2011 (cohort 2010: 51%, n=126).

Conclusions: The initial needs analysis followed by a serious decision-making process within the faculty was identified as an important predictor for the successful establishment of an innovative mentoring program at a large faculty. Differential mentorship may assist medical schools in ensuring both equal opportunities and the promotion of diverse talent.