Mentorship for undergraduate students

Mentorship is defined as ‘as a process whereby an experienced, highly regarded, empathic person (the mentor) guides another, usually younger individual (the mentee), in the development and re-examination of their own ideas, learning, and personal or professional development’. It exists as an active relationship between the student and faculty or between students and seniors where the role of a mentor is more than just being a guide/coach or role model. The mentor actively participates with the mentee to help him/ her realize their maximum potential. Mentorship helps the students to identify their strengths and weakness, adjust to new academic and social environment, provides personalized supervision to help achieve action plans and creates a positive influence on overall personality development like improving self-confidence and performance. It also helps to improve networking, social support and reduces stress. However, to become a successful mentee, one has to be open for challenges, responsive to learn new skills, have inter-personal skills and amenable to criticism.
Mentorship models traditionally exist as dyads where a student associates with a senior mentor. It could also extend as group mentorship or tiered mentorship where a resident and faculty are arranged as mentors in a hierarchical manner. Peer-mentoring has also been experimented where a student of a senior semester or year becomes a mentor for the student even if he/she is not truly a ‘peer’.
However, unlike the western countries, mentorship is in novice stage in Indian settings. Professional courses like medicine are more demanding and intensive and require skill attainment and certification. The Medical Council of India mandates five key roles for an undergraduate student namely, physician of first contact, professional and communicator, life-long learner, leader and member of a health care team. Competency based medical education (CBME) was introduced as a step to create more objectivity in the process of learning and assessment for learners and facilitators. The CBME approach encourages non-traditional approaches like feedback, remediation, workplace based assessments and mentorship to make medical education more effective and pragmatic.

Gurukool just completed compiling data on a mentorship in research on students who participated in research studies mentored by a faculty. Both mentors and mentees underwent focus group discussions. The main theme which emerged from these discussions was the need for a formal mentorship program in the campus. Mentees also felt that a hierarchical traditional structure is a barrier for ice-breaking for the mentees and therefore a structured yet informal system is greatly required in place to ensure wholesome growth.
Realizing the felt need for mentorship among students and the perceived benefits, SATYANVESHI was proposed.

The following program outline is proposed where voluntary participation will be solicited by both, mentors and mentees at Maulana Azad Medical College. Mentors will be stratified into tiers of Faculty, Seniors and Peers. A mentee will indicate his/ her needs, constraints and qualities. The mentors will share their respective interests, abilities and roles where they can mentor. A dyad of mentor-mentee can then be matched by the group themselves. Mentorship will not be restricted to academics and will include extra-curricular activities, research and socio-cultural issues. The number of mentee per mentor will be limited to maximum of three.
A monitoring team of faculty and student representatives will oversee the smooth running of the program and any untoward incidents if they may arise.

Gurukool proposes that this may set up a structured mentorship program in place. This will benefit mentees in making them more comfortably placed in the campus, attending to their socio-cultural problems, guiding them towards best clinical and research practices and making them into a wholesome professional medical graduate. Mentors will also benefit with sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in guiding and mentoring a student, sharing their knowledge and skills to uplift their students/peers and improving the learning experience in the campus.