Medical student perceptions of an ideal mentorship programme : a qualitative study

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Health Professions Education (MPHE)


Educational Development


Medical studies can be very demanding and stressful. The need and utility of a strong mentorship programme is in Medical Colleges is recognized in studies and its benefits for the mentees is well reported (Taherin 2008). The needs of the medical students vary at different stages of the studies. At the Aga Khan University Medical College (AKU-MC), the old Advisor System was replaced by a Mentorship Programme, which was later replaced by a revised Mentorship Programme, yet AKU-MC and yet the programme is not working optimally, as many mentor-mentee groups do not meet. Although studies exist of class or group medical student expectations from a mentorship programme, no study was found to report perceptions of the medical students from every year of the curriculum. It is important to know the perceptions of medical students of what they want from a good mentorship programme, in order to recommend and implement a further improved programme. The rationale of this study was to get medical students' perceptions of their ideal mentorship programme based on perceptions of all five years. This is an attempt to add to world literature and will also be useful for improving the AKU medical student Mentorship Programme locally. Method This was a qualitative study using a case study design conducted with medical students of the AKU-MC Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) Programme (MBBS Programme). Five Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted each with a group of 5 to 8 students from each year of the curriculum. The FGDs were audiotaped and transcribed. They were then analyzed by the principal investigator. The principal investigator reflected on the discussion after each session and improved the quality of questions in order to strengthen the study. The comments were categorized separately for each MBBS class. There was open coding of the comments and the categories of comments were refined into themes and subthemes. Themes were identified, categorized and analyzed based on the perceptions of the students. Results and Analyses The following main themes emerged from student perceptions. The Structure (Theme 1) included the subthemes of formal and informal mentoring, and mentoring by faculty and peers. The process of an ideal Mentorship Programme (Theme 2) included types and frequency of meetings and availability for crises. The expected roles of the mentor (Theme 3) included the characteristics and behaviours of the mentors, emphasizing all aspects of mentee development, especially during stressful situations. Expected role of the mentees (Theme 4) included the subthemes of student achievement of outcomes, students' empowerment and developing into a mentor. The role of the institution (Theme 5) included designing a formal mentorship programme, providing incentives and space, working in harmony with the institutional student counselors and mentoring by senior students. The last emerging theme was continuous quality improvement of mentorship (Theme 6), with workshops for mentors and mentees, annual surveys, and programme evaluation for improvement. A Mentorship Model was developed based on the results. Conclusion AKU student perceptions of an ideal mentorship are of a formally structured programme with more frequent one-to-one interaction. Their ideal mentor is that of a fatherly/motherly figure,

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