Understanding wider environmental influences on mentoring: Towards an ecological model of mentoring in academic medicine
Mentoring is a complex developmental relationship that contributes to individual growth and career advancement in different areas of human activity, including academic medicine. Tis article describes a broader environmental milieux in which mentoring occurs and considers the ways in which the environmental factors may affect the process and outcomes of mentoring. An ecological model of mentoring is proposed that takes into account various factors broadly operating at three contextual levels. The first is societal or “macro” level, which implies cultural, economic, and political factors. The second is institutional or “meso” level, consisting of a) system-related factors such as field and discipline characteristics, and government policies, and b) organization-related factors such as mentoring climate, reward structure, and work design. The third contextual level relates to intra- personal and interpersonal characteristics of mentor-mentee dyads. If mentoring dyad is viewed as the focal point, societal and institutional levels may be labeled as “external”, and personal level as “internal”. The conceptual diversity and methodological challenges in the study of mentoring need to be acknowledged, but should not be an excuse to leave the external contextual elements out of the researchers’ horizon, as they inevitably shape and modify the mentoring relationships. Conclusion. Model presented in this article offers a holistic view of mentoring in academic medicine that may help one comprehend and appreciate the complexity of infuences on mentoring, and inform the future research agenda on this important topic,
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