Objective: The authors assess changes in knowledge and feeling connected to the field of child and adolescent psychiatry (CAP) after participation in a brief mentoring program held at two CAP conferences.
Methods: Similar mentorship programs were implemented at two CAP conferences, one national (N=119 participants), one international (N=53). The 4-day programs were part of larger travel awards, and included daily small group meetings consisting of a mode of two mentors and six participants. The authors created a survey with 40 quantitative questions designed to measure the change in participants' perceptions related to the conference and mentoring program, and provided additional fields for narrative comments.
Results: Mean participant ratings were positive for all questions on the survey. Changes in connectedness were rated higher than those in knowledge. The highest mean ratings were related to feeling more connected to the host organization, to CAP, and to other program participants. Outcomes were similar between the two conferences, except for knowledge gained on research, which was higher among participants in the international meeting. Outcomes were similar across demographic variables, except for internationally trained participants rating higher on research knowledge, connectedness, and overall knowledge. Over 75% of participants felt they made a connection with their mentor, bonded as a group, and learned new things about CAP and the host organization. A qualitative review of comments revealed several themes, including heightened importance of networking, increased awareness of the field, improved connectedness, a desire for trainee-focused events, and mixed feelings about how much structure to provide within the mentorship experience.
Conclusion: A brief group-style mentoring program is logistically feasible within large conferences, and can result in broad positive impact for trainees. Future studies are warranted to determine if these programs have lasting effects on connectedness, career choice, and career development.