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Longitudinal mentorship to support the development of medical students’ future professional role: a qualitative study

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      BackgroundMentoring has been employed in medical education in recent years, but there is extensive variation in the published literature concerning the goals of mentoring and the role of the mentor. Therefore, there is still a need for a deeper understanding of the meaning of mentoring for medical students’ learning and development. The aim of this qualitative study is to explore how formal and longitudinal mentoring can contribute to medical students’ professional development.MethodsSixteen medical students at a Swedish university were interviewed individually about their experiences of combined group and one-to-one mentoring that is given throughout their studies. The mentoring programme was focused on the non-medical skills of the profession and used CanMEDS roles of a physician for students’ self-assessment. Data were analysed using a latent, interpretive approach to content analysis.ResultsThe results comprise three themes: Integrating oneself with one’s future role as a physician, Experiencing clinical reality with the mentor creates incentives to learn and Towards understanding the professional competence of a physician. The mentorship enabled the students to create a view of their future professional role and to integrate it with their own personalities. The students’ understanding of professional competence and behaviour evolved during the mentorship and they made advances towards understanding the wholeness of the profession. This approach to mentorship supported different components of the students’ professional development; the themes Integrating oneself with one’s future role and Towards understanding the professional competence of a physician can be regarded as two parallel processes, while the third theme, Experiencing clinical reality with the mentor creates incentives to learn, promotes these processes.ConclusionsFormalized and longitudinal mentoring focusing on the non-medical skills can be recommended to help medical students to integrate their professional role with themselves as individuals and promote understanding of professional competence in the process of becoming a physician.

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            Author and article information

            [ ]Department of Clinical Science and Education, Karolinska Institutet, Södersjukhuset, SE-118 83 Stockholm, Sweden
            [ ]Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
            [ ]Department of Clinical Sciences, Danderyd Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
            [ ]Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
            +46 8 123 14629 ,
            BMC Med Educ
            BMC Med Educ
            BMC Medical Education
            BioMed Central (London )
            3 June 2015
            3 June 2015
            : 15
            © Kalén et al. 2015

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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