Overall, 232/302 students completed questionnaires (77% response rate). contains demographic characteristics of the respondents.
Demographic Characteristics of 232 Third- and Fourth-year Medical Students and Bivariate Analysis of Medical Student Characteristics Associated With Having a Mentor, UCSF, 1999
Only 36% (83/232) of all students reported having a current mentor, although 96% (222/232) rated mentors as important or very important. In contrast, 64% (147/232) of students had a role model (63% of third- and 64% fourth-year students) and 68% (158/232) had an advisor (64% of third- and 70% of fourth-year students).
demonstrates the medical student characteristics associated with having a mentor on bivariate analysis. On multivariate analysis (), medical school year, research prior to or during medical school, and overall satisfaction with advising from all sources at UCSF were independently associated with having a mentor. Because the variable “overall satisfaction with advising from all sources at UCSF” may have been strongly influenced by having a mentor, a second model that was identical to the first, but excluding that variable was run. The results were similar except that ethnic minority students (African American and Latin American) were now more likely to have mentors (odds ratio [OR], 3.1; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.3 to 7.6; P = .01).
Multivariate Analysis of Medical Student Characteristics Predictive of Having a Mentor, UCSF, 1999*
Fourth-year students most commonly met their mentors during the third (29%) and first (21%) years of medical school, followed by fourth year (19%), second year (17%), before medical school (8%), and other (6%). They met their mentors during inpatient clerkships (28%), through research activities (19%), or by seeking a mentor with similar interests (23%). Less commonly, students met their mentors during outpatient clerkships (9%), or through committee/organization participation (4%).
Students reported that 44% of their mentors were women. Sixty-three percent were between 35 and 50 years of age, with 11% less than 35, 23% greater than 50 years old, and 3% of unknown age. The majority of mentors were white (68%) or Asian (13%), with fewer being African American (5%), Latin American (5%) or other (9%). Twenty-four percent of minority students had minority mentors. Among African-American students, 33% of their mentors were also African American, while 18% of Latin-American students had Latin-American mentors. The majority of mentors were in the fields of internal medicine (12% subspecialty medicine and 20% primary care medicine) or surgery (15% subspecialty and 6% general), with a significant minority in pediatrics (12%), neurology (6%), family medicine (4%), psychiatry (4%), and obstetrics-gynecology (4%). Mentors in our study tended to be younger and were more likely to be female, but were otherwise similar to the general faculty population at the University of California as a whole.13
Specific data on the demographic characteristics of the faculty at UCSF are not available.
Mentors most commonly provided personal support, role modeling, and career advising. Personal-support functions included motivation (98%), moral support (91%), and personal advice (60%). Career-advising functions included assisting with specialty (98%) and residency choice (78%) decisions and providing opportunities that aided in career advancement (83%). Eighty-nine percent of mentors served as role models for career and 80% served as role models for achieving balance between personal and professional life. Less commonly, mentors provided research opportunities (60%), collaboration on research/projects (58%), resources such as funding, office space or administrative assistance (39%), or non-research project opportunities (33%). Students met with their mentors weekly or more often (24%), monthly (29%), or less than monthly (47%). Frequency of meetings did not correlate with overall satisfaction with advising.
Among students without mentors, 23% (34/145) had approached potential mentors and 12% (17/146) had been offered mentorship. Students cited several factors in their inability to find a mentor. These factors were considered to be important barriers if they were rated as 3 or higher on a 5-point Likert scale where 1 = not at all important and 5 = very important. These barriers included discomfort asking (67%), and failing to meet someone with similar career (59%) or personal (66%) interests. Forty students wrote in additional responses, including faculty seeming too busy (n = 13; 33%) and their own career indecision (n = 10; 25%).