Perceptions of Effective Mentor Strategies and Characteristics in Physical Therapy Residency Programs: A Qualitative Study

Purpose/Hypothesis : Presently, many clinicians are very skilled as clinical instructors for students but may not be confident in their ability to help residents develop the clinical decision-making skills expected in specialty-area practice. Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate mentor and resident perceptions about what mentor teaching strategies and personal characteristics foster expert clinical decision-making in physical therapy residents.Number of Subjects : 13Materials/Methods : A grounded theory approach guided this study. Sampling was purposive, with participants recruited through e-mail contact with residency directors in 3 different settings (orthopedics, neurology, and sports) in the greater Houston area. Thirteen in-depth interviews (7 mentor, 6 resident) were conducted. Interviewees also completed a 5-minute online demographic survey. Transcribed interviews were coded separately by two researchers on a rotating schedule. Results from the interview and demographic data were analyzed using SPSS in order to identify and compare major theme frequencies.Results : Resident demographic data were predictably homogenous, while mentor data revealed that a majority of mentors held specialty certifications (71.4%) and had been practicing for 5 years or more (71.4%). All mentors were credentialed clinical instructors (CIs) and had received mentoring training of some kind. Mentors revealed confidence in their mentoring abilities, with a majority (57.2%) agreeing that their mentor training had been adequate or very adequate and an overwhelming majority stating that they felt prepared or extremely prepared to mentor (42.9% and 57.1%, respectively). Finally, a majority had served as a mentor for 4 or more residents. Certain strategies and characteristics were identified by all mentors as being most effective. These included: encourages problem-solving through independent experiences; asks questions; challenges self to become expert; and knows and understands the resident. All residents cited the following: challenges the resident; provides constructive, verbal, and hands-on feedback; and challenges self to become expert. The major themes that were revealed for both populations were: mentor challenges self to become expert; provides constructive, verbal, and hands-on feedback; planned and purposeful mentor time; flexible; and engaged.Conclusions : The findings from this study revealed important mentor characteristics and teaching strategies that are believed to be most effective in physical therapy residency training.Clinical Relevance : Literature on mentoring in physical therapy (PT) residency programs is limited; therefore, mentors may benefit from integrating these identified strategies and characteristics into practice and residents may gain further understanding of effective mentor-resident relationships.

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  • Control #: 2021225
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Anne E. O'Donnell, Leslie C. Gonzalez, Gina M. Herrera, Cinnamon M. Martin
  • Keywords: residency|physical therapy|mentorship

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