Purpose: Mentoring plays an important role in students' performance and career. The authors of this study assessed the need for mentoring among medical students and established a novel large-scale mentoring program at Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich School of Medicine.
Methods: Needs assessment was conducted using a survey distributed to all students at the medical school (n=578 of 4,109 students, return rate 14.1%). In addition, the authors held focus groups with selected medical students (n=24) and faculty physicians (n=22). All students signing up for the individual mentoring completed a survey addressing their expectations (n=534).
Results: Needs assessment revealed that 83% of medical students expressed overall satisfaction with the teaching at LMU. In contrast, only 36.5% were satisfied with how the faculty supports their individual professional development and 86% of students voiced a desire for more personal and professional support. When asked to define the role of a mentor, 55.6% "very much" wanted their mentors to act as counselors, arrange contacts for them (36.4%), and provide ideas for professional development (28.1%). Topics that future mentees "very much" wished to discuss included research (56.6%), final year electives (55.8%) and experiences abroad (45.5%).
Conclusions: Based on the strong desire for mentoring among medical students, the authors developed a novel two-tiered system that introduces one-to-one mentoring for students in their clinical years and offers society-based peer mentoring for pre-clinical students. One year after launching the program, more than 300 clinical students had experienced one-to-one mentoring and 1,503 students and physicians were involved in peer mentoring societies.