BACKGROUND: Physician-scientists play key roles in biomedical research across the globe, yet prior studies have found that it is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain physician-scientists in research careers. Access to quality research mentorship may help to ameliorate this problem in the U.S., but there is virtually no information on mentoring in academic medicine in Japan. We conducted a survey to determine the availability and quality of mentoring relationships for trainee physician-scientists in Japan.
METHODS: We surveyed 1700 physician-scientists in post-graduate research training programs in 6 academic medical centers in Japan about mentorship characteristics, mentee perceptions of the mentoring relationship, and attitudes about career development.
RESULTS: A total of 683 potential physician-scientist mentees completed the survey. Most reported that they had a departmental mentor (91%) with whom they met at least once a month; 48% reported that they were very satisfied with the mentoring available to them. Mentoring pairs were usually initiated by the mentor (85% of the time); respondents identified translational research skills (55%) and grant writing (50%) as unmet needs. Mentoring concerning long-term career planning was significantly associated with the intention to pursue research careers, however this was also identified by some mentees as an unmet need (35% desired assistance; 15% reported receiving it).
CONCLUSIONS: More emphasis and formal training in career mentorship may help to support Japanese physician-scientist mentees to develop a sense of self-efficacy to pursue and stay in research careers.
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