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Enhancing mentoring experiences through e-mentoring: a systematic scoping review of e-mentoring programs between 2000 and 2017


Mentoring is suffering from a shortage of trained mentors which compromise the efficacy of novice mentoring or mentoring between a senior clinician and a junior clinician. E-mentoring is proposed as a means of supplementing this dominant form of mentoring in medicine by providing accessible, timely and longitudinal support for mentees. However, with little is known about e-mentoring nor its role in a blended mentoring approach, a systematic scoping review is proposed to evaluate these gaps in understanding in order to better understand e-mentoring and assess the viability of employing e-mentoring practice to support novice mentoring. Using Arksey and O’Malley’s (Int J Soc Res Methodol 8(1):19–32, 2005) approach, 5 reviewers carried out independent literature reviews of e-mentoring as an adjuvant to novice mentoring in PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, ERIC, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Google Scholar, Scopus, GreyLit, OpenGrey, and Web of Science databases. Braun and Clarke’s (Qual Res Psychol 3(2):77–101, 2006) thematic analysis approach was used to thematically analyse accounts of e-mentoring across different settings. 6557 abstracts were identified, 109 full text articles were reviewed, and 18 articles were included and thematically analysed. The themes identified include definitions, role, stages, processes, platforms, evaluation, and relationships in e-mentoring. The themes identified provide a clinically relevant definition of e-mentoring, and in highlighting the similarities in the phases of novice and e-mentoring reaffirms the validity of a blended approach as a means of addressing shortfalls in mentoring in medicine.

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This paper is dedicated to the late Dr. S Radha Krishna whose advice and insights were critical to conceptualization of this review. The authors wish to thank librarians Ms. Annelissa Chin from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore for her guidance on the literature search and Ms. Wing Ma Junyan at the National Cancer Centre Singapore’s medical library for their guidance and advice with regards to formulating the search strategies for this review. The authors will also like to thank the reviews and editors whose advice and feedback greatly enhanced this paper.

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Appendix 1

The search strategy for PubMed employed is as follows:

((“Mentors”[Mesh] OR “Mentoring”[Mesh] OR Mentor[tiab] OR mentors[tiab] OR mentorship[tiab] OR mentorships[tiab] OR mentee[tiab] OR mentees[tiab] OR mentoring[tiab] OR mentor–mentee[tiab] OR mentee-mentor[tiab] OR mentored[tiab]) AND (virtual[tiab] OR online[tiab] OR cyber[tiab] OR distance[tiab] OR “long-distance”[tiab] OR electronic[tiab] OR internet[tiab] OR web[tiab] OR blend[tiab] OR blended[tiab] OR skype[tiab] OR video[tiab] OR “Computer-assisted instruction”[MeSH] OR “Education, Distance”[MeSH] OR “Electronic mail”[MeSH] OR “Text Messaging”[MeSH] OR “social media”[MeSH] OR “Social Networking”[MeSH] or “Internet”[Mesh])) OR (e-mentor*[tiab] or ementor*[tiab] OR tele-mentor*[tiab])).

Appendix 2

References Study details Intervention MERSQI score COREQ score
Anshu et al. (2010) Qualitative Analysis, Intervention study Participants of a medical education fellowship program conducted by the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) Regional Institute at Christian Medical College, Ludhiana (CMCL) in India interact on a listserv called the Mentoring-Learning Web (ML-Web). Monthly topics for online discussion are chosen by fellows through a standard tool called “multi-voting”. Fellows moderate sessions and direct the pace of the discussion, in which the content and process was analysed N.A 12
Aronoff et al. (2010) Quantitative analysis, intervention study 3rd year medical students completed 6 online, didactic modules over the first 18 weeks, and developed questions independently from patients seen during clerkships and then retrieved and appraised relevant evidence over the next 24 weeks. Online, faculty mentors reviewed student assignments to monitor progress. Mastery of the skills of EBM was assessed prior to and at the conclusion of the course 15.5 NA
Butterworth et al. (2011) Quantitative and qualitative analysis, intervention study Project participants could choose four CME modules out of seven. Eight general practitioners acted as mentors. There was a short one-half-day workshop on mentoring for those with no previous mentoring experience. Each mentor was assigned four mentees, two urban and two rural. After six months, a structured questionnaire was also sent to mentees regarding their experiences during the mentoring process 10 11
Chang et al. (2012) Quantitative analysis, intervention study A smartphone-based mLearning pilot project was implemented to help residents train and care for patients by providing access to medical resources and remote mentoring. Residents were provided with myTouch 3G smartphones, equipped with Android-based medical information applications, built-in camera, and data-enabled SIM card. The phones contained locally loaded point-of-care applications, including Medscape, UCentral, Skyscape, and ePocrates Rx 13 NA
Chu et al. (2013) Quantitative and qualitative analysis, intervention study A 10-month e-learning program, Successful Transition to Anesthesia Residency Training (START), used as a longitudinal intervention to increase interns’ self-perceived preparedness to begin anesthesiology residency training. We administered the START modules to 22 interns, once a month, using an integrated learning management and lecture-capture system. We surveyed interns’ self-assessed preparedness to begin anesthesiology residency before and after completing the START modules. 8 14.5
Griffiths and Miller (2005) Personal view N.A N.A N.A
Guse et al. (2016) Quantitative and qualitative analysis, intervention study Four focus groups with mentees and mentors who participated in a mentoring speed dating event. The matching process was carried out in two stages. First, students were asked to complete an application form stating preferred main areas of research, a self-assessment of their current interest in research, and two open-ended questions about goals and mentorship expectations. Second, students met all mentors associated with their preferred area of research during a MSD session. Students spent 5 min with each mentor and both had the chance for specific questions relevant to mentorship and their ideas of research 13 20
Hunter et al. (2008) Descriptive study, qualitative analysis N.A N.A 14
Jaffer et al. (2013) Systematic review N.A N.A N.A
Kim et al. (2012) Commentary N.A N.A N.A
Luckhaupt et al. (2005) Survey analysis N.A N.A 15
Obura et al. (2011) Qualitative analysis, intervention study A six-month e-mentoring pilot was offered to 10 Radiology residents in the Aga Khan University Postgraduate Medical Education Program in Nairobi, Kenya (AKUHN) with a Professor of Radiology, located at University of Virginia, USA, acting as the e-mentor. Monthly Internet case-based teaching sessions were facilitated by the e-mentor. Residents were coached by a community facilitator to form CoL and collectively work through clinical cases at weekly face-to-face CoL sessions N.A 20
Perlman et al. (2014) Qualitative analysis, intervention study Three faculty development
workshops in the initial pilot year
of the SePAT, and one workshop in preparation for the second year. The initial workshops were designed to familiarize faculty members with ePortfolios and give them practice providing feedback, or mentoring, on the students’ reflective essays. The final workshop was structured to elicit faculty perspectives on their experiences with the entire process
N.A 15
Pillon and Osmun (2013) Perspective paper N.A N.A N.A
Schichtel (2010) Systematic review N.A N.A N.A
Spickard et al. (2016) Qualitative analysis, intervention study The VUSM embarked on a major curriculum reform, entitled Curriculum 2.0. In the Curriculum 2.0 model, medical students advance through the healthcare system of learning based on achievement of dynamically integrated curricular and personal goals. Mentoring program in which trained faculty, called portfolio coaches, guide students in structured reviews of the performance evidence collected in their portfolios, determination of milestone progress, and the generation of personalized learning plans N.A 10
Walsh (2016) Commentary N.A N.A N.A
Weiner et al. (2014) Quantitative analysis, intervention study Novel web-based database of faculty members who expressed interest in mentoring students at the Icahn School of Medicine (SoM) at Mount Sinai. Students are able to access faculty profiles through an online searchable platform which facilitates personalised mentoring opportunities based on individual academic and personal needs. This initiative also permits faculty members to specify their preferences for the type of mentoring they wish to provide to students 7.5 N.A

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Chong, J.Y., Ching, A.H., Renganathan, Y. et al. Enhancing mentoring experiences through e-mentoring: a systematic scoping review of e-mentoring programs between 2000 and 2017. Adv in Health Sci Educ 25, 195–226 (2020).

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  • Blended mentoring
  • E-mentoring
  • Mentoring
  • Medical education
  • Mentoring framework
  • Mentoring relationship
  • Online mentoring