Background: Novice physical therapists face multiple challenges as they transition to autonomous, efficient, and seasoned therapists. Mentoring is known to facilitate growth among novice therapists; however, formalized mentoring programs within the outpatient setting are scarce or management-centered. This study sought to explore the most desired components of a formal mentoring program from multiple perspectives. Methods: An inductive qualitative inquiry explored perceptions of participants (n = 35) from four populations. Interviews were conducted with students (n = 5) and novice therapists (n = 5), and survey data was collected from faculty (n = 7) and expert therapists (n = 18). Thematic content analysis was used for data analysis. Results: Three primary themes emerged as program emphasis: 1) Program function; 2) novice therapists' needs; and 3) the making of a mentorship (including mentor/mentee characteristics and matching strategy). Conclusions: This study captured multiple perspectives as to the components of interest in development of a formalized mentoring program for novice therapists in the outpatient setting. As the profession continues to emphasize standards for guided learning, steps must be taken by individual employers to promote and facilitate the most effective practices. Findings provide depth and suggestions for developing an outpatient-mentoring program.
Keywords: Mentoring theory; mentoring; outpatient.