NEWS | September 12, 2019

Mentoring Academy at UC Davis Health: A framework to support junior faculty


Mentorship plays a critical role in the career development of junior faculty at schools of medicine and schools of nursing. Through its Mentoring Academy (MA), UC Davis Health provides junior faculty the opportunity to establish and maintain solid mentoring relationships with more seasoned faculty members.

Participants in one of the mentoring events at UC Davis Mentoring Academy Participants in one of the mentoring events at UC Davis Mentoring Academy

This mentorship program helps mentees maneuver the pressing demands of the academic, clinical and research life of new faculty members. The mentees are mainly assistant, early and newly hired associate professors as well as any faculty member requesting a mentoring team.

In a UC Davis Health study published August 28 in Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, researchers highlighted the process to develop a successful mentoring program to serve as a platform for guidance and support to junior faculty.

“Our mentoring academy can serve as a model for other academic health institutions,” said Julie Schweitzer, lead author on the study and director of research for the Mentoring Academy. “Mentoring programs require strong, visible support from leadership to modify and sustain an effective mentoring culture and need input from junior faculty to stay relevant and current.”

The Mentoring Academy at UC Davis Health

UC Davis Health developed and launched its dedicated program, anchored in both the Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC) and the School of Medicine, to recognize and advance excellence in mentoring.

The Mentoring Academy aims to help develop independent, highly successful academic faculty. It provides workshops to boost the mentoring skills of the mid-level and senior faculty members working with junior faculty and trainees. It also offers workshops to junior faculty to help them identify mentors who would be a good fit for them, work through mentoring challenges, reduce potential conflicts with mentors and learn to establish a productive relationship.

The Academy also works with research training programs (e.g., T-32) to provide participants mentor training, an experience viewed very positively by NIH training grant reviewers.

resources and challenges of mentoring
Resources and challenges identified in mentee’s individual development plans.

Through the Mentoring Academy, the mentees get to work on their individual development plans (IDPs) for career planning. They share their concerns and reflect on the role their mentors play in finding opportunities and overcoming challenges at work. Junior faculty frequently identified mentors and collaborators as important resources for achieving their goals.

The most common concern for the faculty members, as expressed in their IDPs, is time management. The faculty felt stress about not having enough time for conducting research and the difficulty of finding a healthy work/life balance. They also struggled to take care of themselves and to find ways to avoid burnout.

The mentees also worried about insufficient funding to participate in career development activities and the scarcity of space and laboratory equipment.

“We hope our Mentoring Academy will lead to happier and more productive junior faculty, as well as better relationships among all faculty members,” said Katren Tyler, director of operations at the Mentoring Academy.

Authors of the paper are Julie Schweitzer (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences), Julie Rainwater (CTSC), Hendry Ton (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences), Rebeca Giacinto (CTSC), Candice Sauder (Surgery) and Frederick Meyers (Internal Medicine) from UC Davis Health.