Mentoring programs in health care professions have been implemented for the purpose of providing personalized one-on-one mentoring in career counseling, professionalism, humanism and accessing of personal resources (Macaulay et al., 2007). To our knowledge, a formal system of mentoring during DPT training has not been previously described or explored. The purpose of this platform/poster is to present the origin and evolution of a formal student mentoring program in a large professional physical therapy program.
Our mentoring program was born of 2 ideas: 1) physical therapy faculty are well suited to mentor DPT students and 2) the 1-to-1 relationship is the optimal method of assisting students. A mentoring committee was created to develop, oversee and evaluate the effectiveness of a structured mentoring program. Initially the committee focused on the student’s academic success by establishing mentoring activities. The committee’s focus expanded to include mentor support and training to assist students with professional and personal concerns. In the first year of the program 39% of the faculty participated in mentoring 95 students. Mentors were assigned <5 students from the first year class. Currently, mentors typically follow 6 students, 2 per year of the curriculum.The mentor follows each student from the outset of his/her training, meeting each semester for a total of 6 sessions over 3 years, to review academic success, clinical experiences and semester-specific activities. The mentor electronically documents the meetings and the Mentor Committee Chair reviews the documents to verify compliance.
Now in its 6th year, only minor adjustments have been required to accommodate faculty participation and department requests to expand the mentor’s role. Though some faculty phased out of mentoring, the proportion of participating faculty has grown to 58% through recruitment efforts. In the six years, the Mentoring Committee has identified additional resources and tools to enhance the program. Mentor training was initiated to insure that mentors have the knowledge and support needed to effectively mentor DPT students. The next phase of the program will be to develop metrics and/or surveys to measure the effectiveness of formal mentoring and to determine student and faculty perceptions of the usefulness of mentoring.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education
It appears the Mentor Program is valued by the students and faculty. Although students are randomly assigned to mentors and are allowed to request a change in mentor, <3% of students have requested reassignment. We also have good compliance; this current semester 93% of students met with their mentor. To strengthen the Mentoring Program, student members on the Committee have recently been charged to canvas classmates and identify ways to enhance the value of the program. Our next goals will be to examine the outcomes of the program and identify key features that may benefit students of physical therapy programs more generally.
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