Open Access Research article

The positive impact of a facilitated peer mentoring program on academic skills of women faculty

Prathibha Varkey1*, Aminah Jatoi2, Amy Williams3, Anita Mayer4, Marcia Ko5, Julia Files6, Janis Blair6 and Sharonne Hayes7

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Preventive and Occupational Medicine and Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA

2 Department of Oncology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA

3 Division of Nephrology and Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Rochester, MN, USA

4 Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ, USA

5 Department of Medicine, Women's Health Center at Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ, USA

6 Division of Infectious Diseases at Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ, USA

7 Division of Cardiovascular Diseases at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA

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BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:14  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-14

Published: 23 March 2012



In academic medicine, women physicians lag behind their male counterparts in advancement and promotion to leadership positions. Lack of mentoring, among other factors, has been reported to contribute to this disparity. Peer mentoring has been reported as a successful alternative to the dyadic mentoring model for women interested in improving their academic productivity. We describe a facilitated peer mentoring program in our institution's department of medicine.


Nineteen women enrolled in the program were divided into 5 groups. Each group had an assigned facilitator. Members of the respective groups met together with their facilitators at regular intervals during the 12 months of the project. A pre- and post-program evaluation consisting of a 25-item self-assessment of academic skills, self-efficacy, and academic career satisfaction was administered to each participant.


At the end of 12 months, a total of 9 manuscripts were submitted to peer-reviewed journals, 6 of which are in press or have been published, and another 2 of which have been invited to be revised and resubmitted. At the end of the program, participants reported an increase in their satisfaction with academic achievement (mean score increase, 2.32 to 3.63; P = 0.0001), improvement in skills necessary to effectively search the medical literature (mean score increase, 3.32 to 4.05; P = 0.0009), an improvement in their ability to write a comprehensive review article (mean score increase, 2.89 to 3.63; P = 0.0017), and an improvement in their ability to critically evaluate the medical literature (mean score increased from 3.11 to 3.89; P = 0.0008).


This facilitated peer mentoring program demonstrated a positive impact on the academic skills and manuscript writing for junior women faculty. This 1-year program required minimal institutional resources, and suggests a need for further study of this and other mentoring programs for women faculty.