PRP092: Family Medicine Department Chairs' Experience with Coaching, Mentoring, and Sponsoring

Joshua Manuel, BS; Dean Seehusen, MD, MPH; Tammy Chang, MD, MPH, MS; Morhaf Al Achkar, MD, PhD; Tyler Rogers, MD


Context: Department chairs perform a wide variety of tasks on a routine basis, one key role being the career development of their faculty. Coaching, mentoring, and sponsoring are three commonly used tools to develop others. While mentoring has been the most widely studied tool, one interesting feature of recent literature is the suggestion that sponsoring may play a more prominent role in the career development of women than men. Objective: To determine how important female leaders in Family Medicine perceive sponsoring to have been in their careers. Study Design: Survey. Dataset: Responses reported from a Council of Educational Research Alliance (CERA) omnibus survey. Population Studied: 193 Chairs of Family Medicine Departments nationwide. Outcome Measures: The respondents’ personal experience with these forms of development in their own careers and the frequency with which they used these tools when developing others. Results: A total of 105 (54.4%) chairs responded; 35/96 (36.5%) respondents identified as women. Women were not more likely to report that being sponsored had played a significant role in their own professional development (48.5% vs 50%). Nor were women significantly more likely than men to identify sponsoring as the most important development tool in their own careers (15.5% vs 14.8%). Among Chairs who reported receiving at least some sponsoring during their careers, women were not statistically more likely to report that the individual who provided them the most sponsoring was a woman (33.3% vs 20%; p = 0.9). Women were also not more likely to report frequently using sponsoring to support the development of others (54.5% vs 55.6% of men). Interestingly, women were more likely than men to report formal training in coaching (60% vs 37%, p = 0.03), but not in mentoring (p = 0.8) or sponsoring (p = 0.8). Conclusions: Contrary to the hypothesis, female family medicine department chairs do not report an increased role of sponsoring in their professional development compared to their male colleagues. Nor were they more likely to use sponsoring as a developmental tool themselves. Additional analysis is being done to determine if other demographic characteristics are associated with increased use of sponsoring.
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Paul James 11/21/2020

Thank you for reporting on this study. Even though your hypothesis was not supported, I very much appreciated your differentiating the elements of coaching, mentoring and sponsorship. I suspect that the chairs did not understand the sophistication of your analysis and might find sponsorship and mentorship to be conflated. As a teacher, learners do not often comprehend the importance for example of mundane practice (scales in music for example). Yet, such "experience" can be not only formative, but transformative as depth of experience in clinical practice, teaching, or research is reached and reflected upon.

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