PURPOSE: Mentoring is vital to professional development in the field of medicine, influencing career choice and faculty retention; thus, the authors reviewed mentoring programs for physicians and aimed to identify key components that contribute to these programs' success. METHOD: The authors searched the MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Scopus databases for articles from January 2000 through May 2011 that described mentoring programs for practicing physicians. The authors reviewed 16 articles, describing 18 programs, extracting program objectives, components, and outcomes. They synthesized findings to determine key elements of successful programs. RESULTS: All of the programs described in the articles focused on academic physicians. The authors identified seven mentoring models: dyad, peer, facilitated peer, speed, functional, group, and distance. The dyad model was most common. The authors identified seven potential components of a formal mentoring program: mentor preparation, planning committees, mentor-mentee contracts, mentor-mentee pairing, mentoring activities, formal curricula, and program funding. Of these, the formation of mentor-mentee pairs received the most attention in published reports. Mentees favored choosing their own mentors; mentors and mentees alike valued protected time. One barrier to program development was limited resources. Written agreements were important to set limits and encourage accountability to the mentoring relationship. Program evaluation was primarily subjective, using locally developed surveys. No programs reported long-term results. CONCLUSIONS: The authors identified key program elements that could contribute to successful physician mentoring. Future research might further clarify the use of these elements and employ standardized evaluation methods to determine the long-term effects of mentoring.
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