Mentoring of dental and dental hygiene faculty: a case study.
ABSTRACT Given the predicted shortages of dental faculty in the United States, it is important to retain faculty members. Mentoring could play a crucial role in this context. The objectives of this case study were to explore how a six-year mentoring program in the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry changed faculty members' perceptions of support from colleagues and their mentoring expectations. In addition, we sought to determine how junior versus senior faculty members and mentors versus mentees differed in their perceptions of faculty roles, their self-perceived competence, and their awareness of departmental expectations at the end of the program. Data were collected with self-administered surveys from twenty-five of the thirty-six faculty members in this department in 2002 (response rate: 69 percent) and from thirty-seven of the fifty-four faculty members in 2008 (response rate: 69 percent). The results showed that the perceptions of support from colleagues improved significantly over the six-year period. During the same time period, mentoring expectations increased. In 2008, junior faculty members as compared to senior faculty members remained less positive about their role as faculty members, felt less well prepared for their professional life, and were less aware of departmental expectations. In conclusion, a departmental mentoring program resulted in improved support from colleagues and increased expectations concerning mentoring experiences. However, future targeted interventions are needed to address the identified differences between junior and senior faculty members. Recommendations for faculty mentoring efforts are discussed.