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"A Good Career Choice for Women": Female Medical Students' Mentoring Experiences: A Multi-Institutional Qualitative Study.

Dr. Levine is associate professor of medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Mechaber is associate professor of medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida. Dr. Reddy is associate professor of medicine, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Cayea is assistant professor of medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Harrison is associate professor of medicine, Oregon Health & Sciences University School of Medicine, Portland, Oregon.
Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges (Impact Factor: 2.34). 02/2013; DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31828578bb
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT PURPOSE: The career decisions, practice patterns, and approach to patient care of current female students, who make up close to 50% of medical school classes, will have a profound impact on the profession. This study explores the role gender plays in the mentoring experiences of female medical students. METHOD: In 2011, the authors conducted focus groups with 48 third- and fourth-year female medical students at four U.S. medical schools. Using a template organizing style, they derived themes in an iterative process to explore female medical students' mentoring relationships and the impact of gender on those relationships. RESULTS: The authors identified four major themes: (1) Optimal mentoring relationships are highly relational. Students emphasized shared values, trust, and a personal connection in describing ideal mentoring relationships. (2) Relational mentoring is more important than gender concordance. Students identified a desire for access to female mentors but stated that when a mentor and mentee developed a personal connection, the gender of the mentor was less important. (3) Gender-based assumptions and stereotypes affect mentoring relationships. Students described gender-based assumptions and expectations for themselves and their mentors. (4) Gender-based power dynamics influence students' thinking about mentoring. Students stated that they were concerned about how their mentors might perceive their professional decisions because of their gender, which influenced what they disclosed to male mentors and mentors in positions of power. CONCLUSIONS: Gender appears to play a role in female medical students' expectations and experience with mentoring relationships and may influence their decision making around career planning.

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    ABSTRACT: Most male professionals have more experience mentoring men than they do mentoring women, and their male mentees progress further than their female mentees. Yet, in academic medicine, men have few forums in which to discuss the gender-related issues that they encounter. To address the gender-related questions that commonly arise, the author of this commentary offers perspectives and recommendations, consolidated from over 25 years of experience leading career and talent development programs, to assist men in successfully mentoring women. Her recommendations are organized around three questions: (1) How do women's and men's experiences in mentoring relationships tend to differ? (2) What interferes with the accurate evaluation of women's skills? and (3) Is the current generation of female trainees still at a gender-related disadvantage? She argues that men's ability to effectively mentor women depends to a great extent on their understanding of the challenges that women disproportionately face in developing their careers. Mentors who are skilled in adapting to the gender-related needs of mentees will contribute to women's retention and development in academic medicine, enhance the leadership capacity of their organizations and the profession, and extend their own legacies.
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