A Faculty-Based Mentorship Circle: Positioning New Faculty for Success

Monday, 9 November 2015: 10:20 AM

Janice Waddell, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Faculty of Community Services, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada

Multiple and competing priorities, within a dynamic and changing academic environment, can pose significant challenges for new faculty.  Mentorship has been identified as an important strategy to help socialize new faculty to their roles and to the expectations of the academic environment, as well as help them learn new skills that will position them to be successful in their academic career. In this presentation, the authors will report on the implementation and evaluation of a mentorship circle initiative aimed at supporting new faculty in the first two years of their academic role. The mentorship circle had five meetings over the course of the academic year. During the initial meetings the group shared their hopes and expectations for their involvement in the mentorship circle, developed group norms, and generated a number of thematic areas they wished to discuss over the course of the academic year. Examples of themes included developing one’s program of research, creating a teaching philosophy and dossier, preparing one’s annual report, and building a tenure application. A portion of the meeting was also dedicated to a general check-in to allow members to share and consult with one another about their day-to-day experiences of their new role.  Focus groups were used to gather evaluative data about the effectiveness of the mentorship circle in supporting their transition to their faculty role. All the mentorship circle participants were invited by a research assistant to participate in a focus group interview. Participants reported that the mentorship circle provided them with a culture of support, a sense of belonging, and a safe space to discuss their concerns and learn strategies from both mentors and fellow mentees as they accommodated to their new role. The interdisciplinary nature of the mentorship circle facilitated faculty members’ capacity to navigate their role and foster colleagueship.