While the golden era of mentoring may have been the age of apprenticeships in medicine, the birth of the clinical clerkship in the late 1800s provided the structure for the relationship between faculty and medical student. The last few decades, however, have seen a dramatic change in the availability of faculty to mentor students in clinical teaching settings despite a 600% increase in the number of clinical full-time medical school faculty. This work explores some of the reasons for this deterioration in mentoring and looks at the role of the mentor in professional development, specifically in the area of medical education. Recommendations for implementing structured mentoring programs within a department of surgery are provided. The article concludes with discussion of individual characteristics of the effective mentor in surgical education.
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