Date Published: January 14, 2019
Publisher: The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Author(s): Monica Gandhi, Tony Raj, Ryan Fernandez, Laetitia Rispel, Nonhlanhla Nxumalo, Andrés G. Lescano, Elizabeth A. Bukusi, Blandina T. Mmbaga, Douglas C. Heimburger, Craig R. Cohen.
A growing body of evidence highlights the importance of competent mentoring in academic research. We describe the development, implementation, and evaluation of four regional 2-day intensive workshops to train mid- and senior-level investigators conducting public health, clinical, and basic science research across multiple academic institutions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) on tools and techniques of effective mentoring. Sponsored by the Fogarty International Center, workshops included didactic presentations, interactive discussions, and small-group problem-based learning and were conducted in Lima, Peru; Mombasa, Kenya; Bangalore, India; and Johannesburg, South Africa, from 2013 to 2016. Mid- or senior-level faculty from multiple academic institutions within each region applied and were selected. Thirty faculty from 12 South America–based institutions, 29 faculty from eight East Africa–based institutions, 37 faculty from 14 South Asia–based institutions, and 36 faculty from 13 Africa-based institutions participated, with diverse representation across disciplines, gender, and academic rank. Discussions and evaluations revealed important comparisons and contrasts in the practice of mentoring, and specific barriers and facilitators to mentoring within each cultural and regional context. Specific regional issues related to hierarchy, the post-colonial legacy, and diversity arose as challenges to mentoring in different parts of the world. Common barriers included a lack of a culture of mentoring, time constraints, lack of formal training, and a lack of recognition for mentoring. These workshops provided valuable training, were among the first of their kind, were well-attended, rated highly, and provided concepts and a structure for the development and strengthening of formal mentoring programs across LMIC institutions.
The importance of effective mentorship in the development, success, and retention of trainees and early career investigators in academic research settings is increasingly recognized.1–11 For example, early career faculty in institutions with strong mentoring programs demonstrate greater research productivity than faculty in institutions without such programs.2 Standardized mentoring support programs can triple the success of junior faculty in terms of typical metrics (e.g., grants and articles) of academic performance.11 Successful mentoring programs, however, require skilled mentors. Despite a burgeoning understanding that faculty can benefit from mentoring training,12,13 there are only a limited number of formal mentorship training programs14 for academic researchers in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) settings that offer faculty the opportunity to develop skills and incorporate best practices.
This article describes robust regional “Mentoring the Mentors” workshops designed to train mid-level and senior faculty in LMICs on techniques and tools to improve mentoring practices for early career investigators and other trainees. The four workshops were conducted from 2013 until 2016 in Lima, Peru; Mombasa, Kenya; Bangalore, India; and Johannesburg, South Africa, and trained mostly mid-level and senior faculty, including department chairs and deans, actively mentoring trainees in global health research from surrounding countries. Each program was co-led and tailored by local experts and faculty leaders from each host institution and surrounding institutions who facilitated each workshop in collaboration with faculty leaders from the United States—based FIC consortia.