Mentorship during undergraduate surgical training: comparing perceptions of medical students and faculty at two institutions in South Africa and Sweden
Background: Having a mentor during undergraduate surgical training has been shown to positively influence medical students by increasing interest in surgery, improving confidence, and assisting in career planning. This study aimed to evaluate and compare medical student and faculty perceptions of mentorship during undergraduate surgical training and compare results between two teaching institutions in South Africa and Sweden.
Methods: An electronic, online questionnaire was anonymously distributed to medical students and general surgical faculty at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa, and Karolinska Institutet (KI), Stockholm, Sweden. The questionnaire consisted of multiple choice, true or false, and five-point Likert scale questions, exploring perceptions of mentorship and role models, as well as rating the most important mentor characteristics.
Results: Approximately one third (34.2%) of students stated they had a mentor during their surgical training, with significant differences found between student cohorts (p < 0.001). The ‘registrar’ was most commonly reported as the best role model for medical students by faculty from both UCT (50.0%) and KI (69.4%), as well as UCT students (36.6%). Students rated the following mentor qualities significantly higher compared to faculty: student encouragement (p = 0.037), adequate supervision (p = 0.007), setting of fair expectations (p = 0.002), and teaching skills (p = 0.010).
Conclusion: With significant differences existing in the perceptions of medical students and faculty regarding mentorship and role models during undergraduate surgical training in both South African and Swedish institutions, reconciling and harmonising these differences will be crucial in fostering constructive mentoring relationships.
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