Surgery in South Africa – the attitudes toward mentorship in facilitating general surgical training
Background: There are many barriers to pursuing a surgical career in South Africa, some of which are unique to females. Mentorship has been proposed as a solution to mitigate these barriers. The value of mentorship has not been formally assessed among South African general surgeons and trainees.
Methods: The study was part of a larger study designed to assess barriers to pursuing a career in surgery, including the value of mentorship. A 15-item questionnaire was designed and distributed via the Research Electronic Database Capture from 1 February 2020–3 April 2020. Data were analysed using Stata 15 SE. All responses were anonymised.
Results: One hundred and twenty-nine (13.5%) of 955 potential participants responded to the survey of which 26% (33/129) were female. Sixty-seven per cent of respondents were specialist surgeons (87/129). Seventy per cent (90/129) of participants reported having a role model in surgery, however, 66% (86/129) reported they had no mentor in surgery. 107/129 (83%) participants reported the importance of mentorship. The need for a formalised mentorship programme to facilitate surgical training was recorded by 60% (78/129) of participants, while 18% (23/129) reported the need for a mentorship group specifically for females.
Conclusion: Eighty-three per cent of participants reported the importance of mentorship however two-third lacked a mentor. Most participants advocated for a mentorship group to facilitate surgical training. Establishing formalised mentorship programmes could mitigate the barriers to pursuing a surgical career.
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