Peer mentoring for professional and personal growth in academic medicine

J Investig Med. 2020 Aug;68(6):1128-1134. doi: 10.1136/jim-2020-001391. Epub 2020 Jul 7.


Mentorship is a critical component of career development, particularly in academic medicine. Peer mentorship, which does not adhere to traditional hierarchies, is perhaps more accessible for underrepresented groups, including women and minorities. In this article, we review various models of peer mentorship, highlighting their respective advantages and disadvantages. Structured peer mentorship groups exist in different settings, such as those created under the auspices of formal career development programs, part of training grant programs, or through professional societies. Social media has further enabled the establishment of informal peer mentorship through participatory online groups, blogs, and forums that provide platforms for peer-to-peer advice and support. Such groups can evolve rapidly to address changing conditions, as demonstrated by physician listserv and Facebook groups related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Peer mentorship can also be found among colleagues brought together through a common location, interest, or goal, and typically these relationships are informal and fluid. Finally, we highlight here our experience with intentional formation of a small peer mentoring group that provides structure and a safe space for professional and social-emotional growth and support. In order to maximize impact and functionality, this model of peer mentorship requires commitment among peers and a more formalized process than many other peer mentoring models, accounting for group dynamics and the unique needs of members. When done successfully, the depth of these mentoring relationships can produce myriad benefits for individuals with careers in academic medicine including, but not limited to, those from underrepresented backgrounds.

Keywords: academic medical centers; biomedical research; education, medical; interprofessional relations.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19
  • Career Choice
  • Coronavirus Infections
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training*
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Male
  • Mentoring*
  • Mentors*
  • Minority Groups
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Pandemics
  • Peer Group
  • Physicians
  • Physicians, Women
  • Pneumonia, Viral
  • Social Media
  • Social Support
  • Societies, Medical
  • United States
  • Universities