Department of Medicine Publications

Junior Faculty Experiences with Informal Mentoring

Document Type


Publication Date



Medical Teacher





First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier


Mentoring is one way in which new faculty can acquire the skills needed for a successful academic career. Little is known about how informal mentoring is operationalized in an academic setting. This study had two main objectives: (1) to determine if junior faculty identify as having an informal mentor(s) and to describe their informal mentoring relationships; and (2) to identify the areas in which these faculty seek career assistance and advice. The study employed a grounded theory approach. Subjects were recruited from the clinical teaching faculty and were 3-7 years into their first faculty position. Theoretical sampling was employed in which data analysis proceeded along-side data collection, and collection ceased when saturation of themes was reached. Saturation was reached at ten subjects. Data were collected by individual interviews. Four topics recurred: qualities sought in mentors, processes by which guidance is obtained, content of the guidance received and barriers. Faculty obtained guidance in two principal ways: (a) through collegial working relationships; and (b) through discussion with senior clinicians as part of the evaluative system in the department. Participants discussed the degree of mentoring they received in the areas of: career focus, orientation to the organization, transition of role from trainee to faculty and work/nonwork balance. Barriers identified included an evaluative role and conflict of interest on the mentor's part. Junior faculty identify some relationships from which they receive guidance; however, limitations in these relationships result in a lack of mentorship on career direction and on balancing career with personal life.


Dr. Lorelei Lingard is currently a faculty member at The University of Western Ontario.

Find in your library