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      A systematic review of the literature describing the outcomes of near-peer mentoring programs for first year medical students

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          Transition into higher education has been identified as one of the most stressful periods for learners. Interventions targeting the transition phase such as near- peer mentoring might help address some of these challenges. We were however unable to identify a published systematic review of the literature describing outcomes of near-peer mentoring of medical students during the transition phase into medical school. The aim of this paper is to review the literature and describe the outcomes of near-peer mentoring schemes for first-year medical students in the transition phase.


          A search of different electronic databases was carried out, using the search terms peer, buddy, mentor*, counsel*, advise*, tutor*, student, medical, school. 1861 articles were identified, however only 5 studies met the inclusion criteria - primary mentees should be first-years, and mentors must be inclusive of second-years but not limited to them. In reporting this paper, the PRISMA guidelines were followed.


          Published material on near-peer mentoring for medical students is scarce. Three outcomes for peer mentoring were identified- professional and personal development, stress reduction, and ease of transitioning. Incidentally, peer-mentoring was also found to have facilitated the development of personal and professional attitudes in the mentors. The quality of the evaluation methods in the studies was however low to moderate.


          Near-peer-mentoring is a way of promoting professional and personal development. It is also promising to aid transition and maintain well-being of first-year medical students. However, larger, better quality longitudinal studies, are needed to ascertain its true value for these students.

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          Most cited references 18

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          Systematic review of depression, anxiety, and other indicators of psychological distress among U.S. and Canadian medical students.

          To systematically review articles reporting on depression, anxiety, and burnout among U.S. and Canadian medical students. Medline and PubMed were searched to identify peer-reviewed English-language studies published between January 1980 and May 2005 reporting on depression, anxiety, and burnout among U.S. and Canadian medical students. Searches used combinations of the Medical Subject Heading terms medical student and depression, depressive disorder major, depressive disorder, professional burnout, mental health, depersonalization, distress, anxiety, or emotional exhaustion. Reference lists of retrieved articles were inspected to identify relevant additional articles. Demographic information, instruments used, prevalence data on student distress, and statistically significant associations were abstracted. The search identified 40 articles on medical student psychological distress (i.e., depression, anxiety, burnout, and related mental health problems) that met the authors' criteria. No studies of burnout among medical students were identified. The studies suggest a high prevalence of depression and anxiety among medical students, with levels of overall psychological distress consistently higher than in the general population and age-matched peers by the later years of training. Overall, the studies suggest psychological distress may be higher among female students. Limited data were available regarding the causes of student distress and its impact on academic performance, dropout rates, and professional development. Medical school is a time of significant psychological distress for physicians-in-training. Currently available information is insufficient to draw firm conclusions on the causes and consequences of student distress. Large, prospective, multicenter studies are needed to identify personal and training-related features that influence depression, anxiety, and burnout among students and explore relationships between distress and competency.
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            Perfectionism, the imposter phenomenon and psychological adjustment in medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy students.

            Extensive attention has been paid over the past three decades to the stressors involved in training in the health professions. Although empirical studies have identified demographic subgroups of students most likely to become distressed during training, less research has been carried out to evaluate the impact of students' personality characteristics on their adjustment. Severe perfectionism is one such personality trait that has been shown to increase the risk for anxiety and depressive disorders in other populations. Another set of personality traits linked to increased psychological problems has been labelled the 'impostor phenomenon', which occurs when high achieving individuals chronically question their abilities and fear that others will discover them to be intellectual frauds. Both perfectionism and the impostor phenomenon would seem to be pertinent factors in the adjustment of health professional students; however, these character traits have not been empirically examined in this population. In the present study psychological distress, perfectionism and impostor feelings were assessed in 477 medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy students. Consistent with previous reports, the results showed that a higher than expected percentage of students (27.5%) were currently experiencing psychiatric levels of distress. Strong associations were found between current psychological distress, perfectionism and impostor feelings within each programme and these character traits were stronger predictors of psychological adjustment than most of the demographic variables associated previously with distress in health professional students. Implications for future research, limitations of this study and clinical recommendations are discussed.
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              Student teaching: views of student near-peer teachers and learners.

              Since teaching is an important skill for future residency training and practice, training for this role should optimally be introduced as well as practiced in medical school. Studies have not fully explored the benefits and potential challenges of more senior medical students teaching more junior medical students. We define a near-peer as a trainee who is one or more years senior to another trainee on the same level of medical education training (i.e. medical students teaching other medical students, residents teaching other residents) The aim of this study was to investigate the perceptions of medical students regarding near-peer teaching and near-peer learning and to identify relevant teacher roles for near-peer teachers at two institutions from two different countries. The authors developed two questionnaires that were filled out by a convenience sample of students who have participated in near-peer teaching (as either learner or teacher). These questionnaires were distributed at the University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMC Utrecht), the Netherlands and the Uniformed Services University (USU), USA. The majority of near-peer learners and near-peer teachers from both sites identified information provider, role model, and facilitator as suitable roles for near-peer teachers. Both groups agreed that planner and resource developer may be less suitable roles for near-peer teachers. Information provider, role model, facilitator appear to be appropriate roles for a near-peer teacher from the perspective of near-peer learners and teachers. Given the demands of future physicians to serve as educators for both junior physicians and patients, near-peer teaching during medical school appears to be an important curricular consideration.

                Author and article information

                0741 388 7855 ,
                01332 724647 ,
                +44 7817 746815 ,
                BMC Med Educ
                BMC Med Educ
                BMC Medical Education
                BioMed Central (London )
                8 May 2018
                8 May 2018
                : 18
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0400 7007, GRID grid.416222.1, Macclesfield District General Hospital, ; Macclesfield, UK
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8868, GRID grid.4563.4, School of Medicine, , The University of Nottingham, ; Nottingham, UK
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8868, GRID grid.4563.4, School of Medicine, Queens Medical Centre, , The University of Nottingham, ; Derby Road, Nottingham, NG7 2UH UK
                © The Author(s). 2018

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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                evaluation, peer-mentoring, near-peer, outcomes


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