What sparks a guide on the side? A qualitative study to explore motivations and approaches of mentors in health professions education

Subha Ramani*, Rashmi A. Kusurkar, Evangelos Papageorgiou, Susan van Schalkwyk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Despite abundant research emphasising the value of mentoring for healthcare professionals, little is known about what motivates mentors. This study aimed to explore what motivated a group of internationally renowned health professions educators to accept informal, international and mostly online mentoring roles, and their approaches to that mentoring. Methods: Using a qualitative approach, we interviewed ten global educational leaders, who volunteered to serve as mentors in an initiative implemented by the Association for Medical Education in Europe in 2019, via Zoom. The hour-long interviews, conducted between May and October 2019, were audiotaped and transcribed on Zoom. De-identified transcripts were analysed for key themes. Results: The key themes identified could be mapped to three categories, Motivations–Why; Approaches–How, and Global and virtual mentoring–What. Themes under motivations included: (1) Nurturing relationships focussed on mentees’ growth; (2) Pass on the benefit of one’s experience; (3) For one’s own continued growth. Themes under approaches included: (1) Provide a safe space; (2) Encourage mentees to take ownership of their professional development. Themes under global and virtual mentoring included: (1) Mentoring across geographical borders is still about relationships; (2) Virtual mentoring is not a barrier to relationship building. Discussion: Though mentors also saw own growth and ongoing professional development as an important benefit of mentoring, altruism or the desire to benefit others, appeared to be a key motivating factor for them. Finding ways in which to identify mentors who are passionate about strengthening the field in this way–for example through reflective narratives and critical conversations–could be key when implementing mentoring initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-743
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number7
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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