Functional mentoring: a practical approach with multilevel outcomes

J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2008 Summer;28(3):157-64. doi: 10.1002/chp.178.


Introduction: Mentoring is a central component of professional development. Evaluation of "successful" mentoring programs, however, has been limited and mainly focused on measures of satisfaction with the relationship. In today's environment, mentoring programs must produce tangible outcomes to demonstrate success. To address this issue, the authors advance the framework of functional mentoring combined with measurement of outcomes at multiple levels.

Methods: The mentoring program is embedded within an intensive, continuing medical education (CME) accredited faculty development program. Survey methodology is used to collect qualitative and quantitative data at the start, midpoint, and end of the program and longitudinally. Participants in 4 years of the program were surveyed.

Results: In 4 years, 165 faculty participated in the program. Respondents were highly satisfied with the pairings: 85% of junior faculty believed their mentor had a significant effect on their projects. Junior faculty reported a significant enhancement of skills related to initiating and negotiating a new mentoring relationship (85%) and stated that their project would have a significant impact on their career (92%) and on the department or institution (86%).

Discussion: The success of this mentoring program is demonstrated at multiple levels. The key outcome of functional mentoring is the project. Projects are aligned with professional responsibilities and with institutional missions. The project contributes to the individual's dossier and adds value to the institution. Functional mentoring is a practical approach that allows measurable results at multiple levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Behavior
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods*
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentors*
  • Program Evaluation