Background and aims Medical school is a stressful time for many students, who report higher rates of anxiety and depression than the general population. Mentorship can provide increased support to medical students, and improve their academic performance and overall well-being.
We developed and evaluated a novel mentorship programme for third year medical students undertaking an integrated BSc in paediatrics and child health.
Methods The integrated BSc is the first paediatrics-specific BSc in the UK. Mentors were paediatric trainees selected by competitive application; mentors received training prior to starting and ongoing support over the year. Each mentor was matched to one or two mentees and met with them at least two times. Participants were e-mailed an anonymised questionnaire at the end of the programme; responses were analysed thematically.
Results Sixteen medical students and 11 paediatric trainees (mentors) participated in the programme. Eighty six percent of mentees would recommend the programme to other students with 43% reporting that it was ‘very helpful’ and 43% ‘a bit helpful.’ Thematic analysis of free text responses identified four major benefits: personal support, feedback on assessments, guidance on paediatrics as a career, and advice on life issues outside medicine.
100% of the mentors would recommend the programme to their colleagues. 88% thought it had ‘definitely been helpful’ for their future career in paediatrics. They identified four main benefits: Skills and experience in mentorship, practice providing support to junior colleagues “very helpful for future roles such as becoming an educational or clinical supervisor”, a greater understanding of the undergraduate experience, and approaching paediatrics through fresh eyes. Mentors found it enjoyable and rewarding: “It gave me a lot of satisfaction.” Challenges included finding the time to meet students and “worrying that the students did find it useful.”
Conclusions Our novel mentorship programme utilised current paediatric trainees to enthuse and mentor potential future paediatricians. There were bilateral benefits to both mentors and mentees. We anticipated that students would gain from the experience, but it was also highly valuable to the paediatric trainees who developed transferable skills in mentorship and supervision, both essential but difficult to achieve competencies in the paediatric training curriculum.
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