The impact of mentoring during postgraduate training on doctors' career success

Med Educ. 2011 May;45(5):488-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2010.03857.x.


Objectives: Although mentoring is perceived as key to a successful and satisfying career in medicine, there is a lack of methodologically sound studies to support this view. This study made use of a longitudinal design to investigate the impact of mentoring during postgraduate specialist training on the career success of doctors.

Methods: We analysed data pertaining to 326 doctors (172 women, 52.8%; 154 men, 47.2%) from a cohort of medical school graduates participating in the prospective SwissMedCareer Study, assessing personal characteristics, the possession of a mentor, mentoring support provided by the development network, and career success. The impact of personal characteristics on having a mentor was investigated using multiple linear regression analysis. The impacts of having a mentor and of having development network mentoring support on career success were analysed using hierarchical multiple regression analysis.

Results: Up to 50% of doctors reported having a mentor. A significant gender difference was found, with fewer female than male doctors having a mentor (40.7% versus 60.4% at the fifth assessment; p ≤ 0.001). Apart from gender, significant predictors of having a mentor were instrumentality (β = 0.24, p ≤ 0.01) and extraprofessional concerns (β = -0.15, p ≤ 0.05). Both having a mentor and having career support from the development network were significant predictors of both objective (β = 0.15, p ≤ 0.01; β = 0.17, p ≤ 0.01) and subjective (β = 0.17, p ≤ 0.01; β = 0.14, p ≤ 0.05) career success, but not of career satisfaction.

Conclusions: This study confirmed the positive impact of mentoring on career success in a cohort of Swiss doctors in a longitudinal design. However, female doctors, who are mentored less frequently than male doctors, appear to be disadvantaged in this respect. Formal mentoring programmes could reduce barriers to mentorship and promote the career advancement of female doctors in particular.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Career Choice
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Mentors*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Switzerland