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  Table of Contents 
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 215-225

Barriers and solutions to effective mentorship in health research and training institutions in Nigeria: Mentors, mentees, and organizational perspectives


1 Department of Paediatrics, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Enugu, Nigeria
2 Department of Paediatrics, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria
3 Department of Medicine, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria
4 Department of Public Health, Lead City University, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
5 Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Abuja, Nigeria
6 Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, Benue State University, Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria, India
7 Department of Microbiology, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos, Nigeria
8 Department of Veterinary Pathology and Microbiology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
9 Department of Biological Sciences, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State, Nigeria
10 Department of Medicine, University of Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria
11 Department of Medicinal Plant Research and Traditional Medicine, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Abuja, Nigeria
12 Department of Community Medicine, University of Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria
13 Department of Biochemistry, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Anambra State, Nigeria
14 Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hosptal Complex, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
15 Department of Nursing Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
16 Department of Clinical Sciences, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos, Nigeria
17 Centre for Human Virology and Genomics, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos, Nigeria
18 Department of Nuclear Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
19 Department of Haematology, Bayero University, Kano, Kano State, Nigeria
20 Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria
21 Department of Microbiology, University of Jos, Nigeria
22 Department of Clinical Sciences, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos; College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Date of Submission01-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance15-Jan-2022
Date of Web Publication16-Mar-2022

Correspondence Address:
Prof. O Ezechi
Department of Clinical Sciences, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos
Nigeria
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/njcp.njcp_154_20

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   Abstract 


Aims and Background: Mentoring relationships and programs have become a subject of global interest and their relevance is high in the ever-evolving health system. In Nigeria, informal system of mentoring is largely practiced. To be able to institutionalize mentoring program, there is need to explore the various challenges of mentoring process and suggest potential approaches for effective mentor-mentee relationship in health research institutions in Nigeria. Subjects and Methods: The study was designed to explore the barriers and solutions to mentoring process from the perspectives of the mentor, mentee, and organization in health research and training institutions in Nigeria. A cross-sectional descriptive design was employed and the study was conducted among 21 health researchers drawn from 24 health research institutions across the 6 regions of Nigeria. The nominal group technique was adopted in the data collection process. Results: The most frequently reported mentor challenges were “lack of understanding of mentorship process” (84.2%) and “lack of capacity for mentoring” (78.9%), while those of mentee were “mentor preference” (73.7%) and “lack of freedom of expression” (47.4%). “Culture of selfishness/individualism” (84.2%) and “lack of formal relationship” (63.2%) were the most mentioned systemic challenges. Training on mentoring process and relationship was mentioned as the most frequent approach to overcoming challenges for the three perspectives. Conclusion: Significant mentorship challenges exist in the Nigerian health, academic and research institution. Systematic approaches to finding and implementing the appropriate solutions are needed to circumvent these bottlenecks.

Keywords: Mentee, mentor, Nigeria, research


How to cite this article:
Ughasoro M D, Musa A, Yakubu A, Adefuye B O, Folahanmi A T, Isah A, Onyemocho A, Chukwu E E, Chukwudi C U, Dadi Mamud J N, Effa E, Egharevba H O, Etokidem A, Mbachu A N, Njokanma A R, Ogunfowokan A A, Ohihoin N E, Onwuamah C, Orunmuyi T A, Salako A O, Yusuf A A, Okubadejo N, Anepo-Okopi J, Ezechi O, Salako B L. Barriers and solutions to effective mentorship in health research and training institutions in Nigeria: Mentors, mentees, and organizational perspectives. Niger J Clin Pract 2022;25:215-25

How to cite this URL:
Ughasoro M D, Musa A, Yakubu A, Adefuye B O, Folahanmi A T, Isah A, Onyemocho A, Chukwu E E, Chukwudi C U, Dadi Mamud J N, Effa E, Egharevba H O, Etokidem A, Mbachu A N, Njokanma A R, Ogunfowokan A A, Ohihoin N E, Onwuamah C, Orunmuyi T A, Salako A O, Yusuf A A, Okubadejo N, Anepo-Okopi J, Ezechi O, Salako B L. Barriers and solutions to effective mentorship in health research and training institutions in Nigeria: Mentors, mentees, and organizational perspectives. Niger J Clin Pract [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 19];25:215-25. Available from: https://www.njcponline.com/text.asp?2022/25/3/215/339714




   Introduction Top


The health system is continually evolving to match the changing trend in health demand. Early career researchers often need proper guidance in form of mentoring to harness their full potential in research. There is continuous increase in demand for innovations that will improve the standard of living of peoples worldwide. Sustainable development is one acknowledged means to improve the living condition of the people and has to rely on evidence generated from research and observations. However, the conduct of translational researches is low, and the translation of research findings to policies that influence practice is often a challenge in developing countries.[1] This has over the years been attributed to lack of the inclusion and coordination of a vast array of stakeholders (e.g., health policy).[2] Conducting good clinical research is fundamental to the growth of health system. It requires resources such as human capacity, conducive research environment, and adequate funding. Mentorship is needed to pilot the early career researcher to learning the ethics and acceptable conduct of research to meet the demands of the 21st Century.

Mentoring deals with presiding over and guiding someone's career and development, with the sole purpose of imbibing potential qualities and experiences, skills, and psychological equilibrium for optimal performance.[3],[4] The success and efficiency of mentoring depends on the inherent characteristics of both the mentor and mentee, as well as the mutual understanding of the mentoring process and its techniques.[5] Mentoring is required in every field including research, thus, the term research mentorship.[6]

The concept of research mentorship is still evolving in its definition, scope, and roles of the individuals involved.[6] Two major components of research mentorship that requires attention are process-oriented suggestions (e.g., choosing mentors) and views on structural issues (e.g., goals of the mentor-mentee relationship, duration of the relationship, and formalization of the mentor-mentee relationship).[7] Ragsdale et al.[8] in their study conceptualized research mentorship around particular themes, including acquisition of research skills, academic productivity, and career development. Keyser and colleagues conceptualize research mentorship to be a process that is “effectively transmitting the values, standards, and practices of science from one generation of researchers (mentors) to the next (mentee).”[3] Thus, operationally, research mentorship can be defined as a partnership between an experienced mentor and a mentee, which seeks to provide unidirectional career guidance (i.e., assistance in navigating research career attainment) and bidirectional professional development.[9] Therefore, mentoring in research should be on all the components of research, which includes: The initiation and promotion of research and development of collaboration skills, presentation of research findings, and publication, research conceptualization, and implementation of research finding.

However, research mentoring is perceived as both ineffective and often not practiced as expected in most low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).[10],[11],[12] This trend needs to change because the growth and development of organizations (health sector included) relies on human resource recruitment, training, and effective mentoring. In this study, we explored the various challenges of the mentoring process from the perspectives of the mentor, mentee, and the organization, and also suggest approaches needed for an effective mentor-mentee relationship in health research and training institutions in Nigeria. The findings of this study should inform the development of an effective mentoring program for researchers and trainees, which will consequently improve research productivity, thereby enhancing better performance in the health sector.


   Methods Top


Study design

A cross-sectional descriptive study was employed using the Nominal Group Technique (NGT). The NGT is a structured and participatory approaches best suitable for generating solutions to problems and prioritizing them, especially during qualitative focus group (QFGs) research.[13] Evidence shows that NGT is a successful approach to setting priorities in different areas and it is internationally acceptable for health research as an evaluative tool in healthcare.[14],[15],[16] The nominal group process is a structured meeting that seeks to provide an orderly procedure for obtaining qualitative information from target groups who are most closely associated with a problem area.[16] The NGT gives the participants the opportunity to determine which issues require further, more in-depth inquiry and to draw attention to issues that may have been previously unidentified. In NGT, group members identify, rank, and rate critical problem dimensions without the interference of unbalanced involvement. This is achieved partially by shielding domination of group discussion by domineering participants, and a recurring issue that was identified as highly problematic in focus group meetings.[17]

Recruitment of appropriate study participants

The twenty-one participants were researchers and academicians randomly recruited from Health Institutes and Universities in Nigeria by the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) to participate in the 2019 Grantsmanship and Mentorship Workshop.

The NIMR is a medical research institute established by the Federal Government of Nigeria, to promote National health and development. NIMR focuses on biomedical, health system and policy, and public health research. It annually organizes scientific research conferences. In 2019, NIMR hosted a pioneer 3-week residential workshop of mentee-mentor program and Grantsmanship. It was during the workshop that survey was conducted among the attendees.

Recruitment process

NIMR through multiple means distributed call for expression of interest to participate in the first grantsmanship and mentorship residential workshop. Eligibility was based on being a junior faculty in any health facility and having publications in peer-reviewed journals. Participants who expressed interest in the workshop through submission of application, which comprised letter of motivation, concept paper of planned study, biosketch, letter of support from their institution, and certificate of completion of course on ethics and protection of human research participants (PHRP) by Collaborative Institutional Training Initiatives (CITI), were shortlisted. This was to ensure that greater proportion of participants were those with experience on the issues concerning mentors and mentees. A total of 182 persons expressed interest and through rigorous review process, 21 participated in the workshop. The successful persons were contacted through email and a copy of the program with course content and activities also was sent. They were requested to confirm their willingness to participate in the workshop and the survey. All those who attended the workshop and the QFG have certificate on PHRP. The workshop took place in NIMR in participants' friendly environment with suitable meeting space that was both accessible and large enough for both lecture/presentations and the QFG to take place.

Data collection (Conducting QFG using NGT)

The NGT was preceded by discussions and lectures on mentorship program in academic and health institutions in Nigeria. The participants completed a brief demographic questionnaire: age, gender, place of work, employment status, number of publications in a year, and years of work experience. There were facilitators and rapporteurs who took turns to coordinate and guide the process, and record the comments of the participants, respectively. The selection of the facilitators and rapporteurs was gender-sensitive. The survey was started with the facilitator giving a brief overview of the exercise and its purpose. The participants were informed that the objectives of the NGT discussions were to (1) explore the various challenges of the mentoring process from the perspectives of the mentor, mentee, and the organization, and (2) make suggestions on approaches needed to improve on an effective mentor-mentee relationship in health research and training institutions in Nigeria.

After the NGT procedures were explained, participants were presented with the first research question: “Think about the challenges you have faced as a mentee since taking on the career as an academia” [Figure 1]. After being presented with this question, participants were asked to suggest the challenges that they have experienced while carrying out research. The list was both written on a flip chart as well as typed on a computer and projected onto a screen as the suggestions were provided so that the list could be viewed by the moderators and participants as it developed. Participants developed a list of challenges collectively based on individual contributions. The group discussion was used to clarify the meaning and wording of items and to remove or merge overlapping items. A consensus process was used, which comprised asking participants if they agreed with the wording of items and whether they thought an item would be better if separated into two items. Items were edited based on group feedback until agreement was reached for all decisions. Once a list of the unique items was agreed on, the list of items was printed out. Participants then rated the importance of each challenge listed, using a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing challenges that they did not perceive as personally important to them in their role as mentee researchers and 10 representing extremely important challenges. After each participant had rated the items, the ratings were collected. Item ratings were collected to inform the prioritization of the items that have been suggested from the researchers' perspective.
Figure 1: The Process for the Nominal Group Technique (NGT)

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The same process was used for the second and third research questions: “Think of the mentor roles and what are the challenges you think exist in the mentorship role” and “Think about services/system that could be put in place to provide better support to mentor-mentee program.” The further questions were on “what programs, services, or supports would be helpful in your role as a mentee, and for mentors? and how would these programs, services, or other supports operate?” Participants were asked to write down on a piece of paper any support services that they thought would be helpful and the way in which these services could be delivered. The same process used for answering the first research question was then applied to this research question, and a final master list of support services was developed. As with the first research question, each idea for a support service that was generated was rated independently by each participant on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 representing support services that they believed they would be unlikely to use and 10 representing services they believed they would very likely use.

Data analysis

The questionnaires were entered and analyzed with Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20 (IBM, Chicago Illinois, USA).

Ethical consideration

An exemption to conduct the study was obtained from the health research ethics committee of NIMR before the study was conducted. Both verbal and written informed consents to participate in the study were obtained from all participants before the commencement of the survey.


   Results Top


Participant characteristics

A total of 21 participants were involved in the NGT discussions consisting of 15 males (71.4%) and 6 females (28.6%). Participants' age range was 32–57 years (43.4 ± 7.2 years). Most participants were university staff 17 (81%), while 4 (19%) worked in Research Institutes. The participants that reported having mentors were 13 (68.4%) and those that had mentees were 10 (52.6%). Participants had been employed for periods range between 0.3 and 19 years (9.7 ± 5.8 years) with a mean of 15.8 ± 10.5 hours per week of research (range: 2–72 h). The average publication per year per participant was 2.8 (±1.4) with range of 1–6 publications annually. Other characteristics are shown in [Table 1].
Table 1: Socio-demographic characteristics of participants

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Ranked mentor-mentee- organization challenges

A total of 20 items were generated for mentor (7), mentee (6), and organizational challenges (7). Of the mentor challenges, “Lack of understanding of mentorship process” (84.2%) and “Lack of capacity for mentoring” (78.9%) were the most frequently mentioned. Of the mentee challenges, “Mentor preference” (73.7%) and “Lack of freedom of expression” (47.4%) were frequently mentioned. On organizational challenges, “Culture of Selfishness/Individualism” (84.2%) and “Lack of formal relationship” (63.2%) were the most mentioned challenges [Table 2].
Table 2: Mentor, mentee, and organizational challenges in mentorship process as mentioned by participants

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Also, there were series of approaches mentioned by the participants to combat the mentor, mentee, and organizational challenges of the mentorship process. Periodic training and re-training were mentioned across all areas. Furthermore, rewarding and showcasing mentorship achievement were also mentioned as solutions to challenges relating to mentor and mentee, while institutionalizing reward systems was mentioned for organizational challenges. Other approaches mentioned are documented in [Table 3].
Table 3: Solutions to mentoring challenges as mentioned by the participants

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   Discussion Top


This study highlighted some of the critical issues militating against effective mentoring programs in Nigeria's health and research institutions and systematically identified viable solutions to address these challenges. Participants in this study were selected from research-active health institutions across all geo-political zones of the country, enabling the participants to provide varied and encompassing perspectives on the mentoring issues in the country. About two-thirds of the respondents in this study had a dedicated mentor and a considerable proportion of the participants also have mentees. Hence, the participants in this study are capable of providing insights from both mentor and mentee perspectives.

Mentor challenges and solutions

Lack of understanding of the mentorship process (84.2%), lack of capacity for mentoring (78.9%), managing transitions in mentorship relationship (31.6%), lack of commitment to mentorship (26.3%), intimidation (26.3%), and mentee preference (16.7%) were the mentioned mentor-related challenges. Lack of understanding of mentorship process clarifies why fundamental deficiency on the side of the mentors themselves, who are supposed to be the fulcrum in the mentorship process. Mentor expertise is crucial to the success in the mentoring process and is acknowledged as one of the major enablers of mentoring.[18] Although in formal mentorship program, the mentorship program managers (MPM) are expected to educate as well as provide mentors and mentees with tools and resources necessary for the development of a fruitful relationship, the fact still remains that some mentors were not mentored before as mentees, thus have never been involved in mentoring relationship to have the privilege of experienced good mentorship relationship themselves. However, the provision of useful resources in the form of summarized brief and easy to read documents can be very helpful. Documents in the likes of: first meeting checklists; mentor-mentee expectation agreements; goal-setting frameworks; and many more.[19] This will bring stability, direction, as well confidence to the mentor to drive the relationship. However, beyond giving direction, especially in health institutions, mentors are expected to acquire expertise on some key areas which include clinical practice, teaching experience, academic guidance, professional network, and research capacity.[20],[21],[22]

The lack of capacity for mentoring is not the same as the absence of capacity to be a mentor. Not every mentor is up to the task and even skilled ones run into problems often. Mentoring is purely dealing with people, a complicated process that demands quality mentors. Low-quality mentors cannot motivate their mentees to success, and will be less effective and less engaged. As a result, there will be both poor experience for the mentees and summarily failure in the mentoring relationship. It is important to choose the right mentors at the commencement of the mentoring program, as well as provide for the mentors training, and continue to communicate with them the entire program, through regular check-in emails and program updates.

Managing transition in mentoring relationship has remain one of the major challenges in mentorship. One constant factor in every mentorship program is at some point of time, it has to deal with transitions. The relationship will end, and mentors may feel like not letting a dependable mentee go or mentee may feel so dependable on the mentor that he/she may be at a loss as to how to progress. This transition should be planned well ahead and the gradual processes commence. It should not be a clean break; shared assignments that will last beyond the period should be planned to encourage relationship and acclimatization to the new positions. Informal meetings and activities should be sustained to help each understand new challenges and proffer advice. It is important that the mentor makes the mentee understand that he/she knows about anxiety of working independently and losing this existing important connection, and reassures the mentee that the mentor will advocate through their transition.[23]

If a mentee perceives that a mentor lacks the commitment and capacity to guide the mentee through his/her research career, it engenders a lack of confidence in the relationship. The inability of a mentor to provide the expected professional guidance has the capacity to cause lack of fulfilment, misunderstanding, and friction in the mentoring relationship. A lack of understanding of the mentorship process by the mentor can lead to dysfunction and eventual failure of the mentorship relationship. Mentor education and re-training, formalizing mentorship programs, periodic evaluations of the mentoring processes, as well as incentivizing and recognizing mentorship achievements, were among the important solutions proffered for addressing the mentor-related challenges.

Mentee challenges and solutions

Mentor preference (73.7%), lack of freedom of expression (47.4%), lack of appreciation of the benefits of mentorship (42.1%), lack of trust (36.8%), managing transition in mentorship relationship (26.3%), and intimidation and emotional blackmail (21.1%) were the mentioned as mentee's challenges. Mentor preference means the selective disposition of mentees toward particular mentor (s) based on the perceived attributes and capacities of the mentor. The preference of a mentor by a mentee is partly influenced by mentor expertise as perceived by the mentee. If the mentor's attributes and capabilities do not quite fit the mentee's preferences and expectations, this could result in a dysfunctional mentoring relationship. Also, a mentoring relationship is dysfunctional if mentees have dissimilar attitudes, values, and beliefs to the assigned mentor in the relationships. The possibility of the occurrence of mismatches is very high in formalized mentoring with resultant discontent, anger, jealousy, resentment, sabotage, deception, or harassment.[24] Hence, the informal mentoring relationship might have greater chances of high commitment to the relationship by both parties because of mutual interest and often more productive. Allowing mentees to choose prospective mentors by aligning capabilities and expectations is one of the approaches suggested by the participants that could ameliorate these challenges.

A significant proportion of the respondents also reported “lack of commitment” as a challenge in the mentor-mentee relationship. Commitment is a very important factor in the mentor-mentee relationship. It should be bi-directional and may be seen in how much time is spent nurturing the relationship. There are several dimensions to how strong time commitments can be and these include frequency of and availability for meetings and duration and quality of the engagements.[25] Inadequate time commitments and waning interest during the relationship have been identified as key characteristics of failed mentorship relationships.[26] Although this may emanate from mentee or mentor work and life demands, problems with scheduling, distractions, and a focus on other issues, the ability to actively engage and create intensely personal engagements even within very short periods may be adequate to overcome this perception.[26] It has been advocated that if a mentee lacks commitment to be mentored, it is the duty of the mentor to try to discern the cause of this attitude and address it in a reasonable manner.

Other challenges reported by respondents were lack of freedom of expression and lack of trust. In many instances, mentees may feel threatened or compelled to follow every prescription by a mentor to avoid potential conflicts. This negates the expectation of attainment of independence expected of mentee. Indeed, an accommodating communication style, the provision of constructive feedback underpins effective communication while the acknowledgement of professional contributions of mentees rather than mistrust drives independence.[27] If mentors do not act in the best interest of the mentee and the mentoring process, then problems could arise that could lead to disenfranchisement and eventual failure of the process. Mentors need to see mentoring as a two-way beneficial process and should help the mentees to make informed decisions about their research career without feeling forced or pressured.

Managing transitions in mentorship relationship was reported as a challenge by a significant proportion of the respondents, and this challenge recurred in both mentor and mentee perspectives. This can be reduced by responsiveness to shifting needs, with mentors being responsive to their shifting needs over time. The need for sameness between mentors and mentees reduced with age and experience.[28] There was recognition that “shifting needs” could be addressed by multiple mentors with different skills.[29],[30] Wasserstein et al.[31] found that having multiple mentors achieved more than the dyadic model and related strongly to job satisfaction.

Organizational challenges and solutions

“The Culture of Selfishness/Individualism” (84.2%), “Lack of formal relationship” (63.2%), and clash of personality/mentorship style (57.9%) were the most mentioned organizational challenges. Selfishness and individualism is often manifest as an unfair control on the part of both mentor and mentee and is a recognized challenge in the implementation of mentor-mentee program. Some mentors subject their mentee to complete the mentor's work in the pretence that the mentee learns better doing the task by him/herself. Although in reality, practice makes perfect in learning, there is still a great variance exists between practicing to perfect a skill, and doing someone else's work, which may lack adequate skill acquisition components.[32] Because most mentees at the beginning of their career have the challenge of saying “no” to their superiors or mentors, they easily become overwhelmed with demands for work from their superior. This is worsened by their lack of experience on how to prioritize these demands. Therefore, these workloads become an encumbrance and an obvious threat to their career development. In such situation, mentee is advised to make a list of work-to-do and present it to the mentor to assist in prioritization. On the side of mentees, they may begrudge accepting personal responsibility for outcome of their actions or decisions and censure their mentor instead. This is often experienced when a program dissertation or thesis of a student failed during defense. The candidate is always quick to blame his/her supervisor (s) as not doing enough to ensure a successful outcome. Even when the reverse was the case. This can create strife if such a statement gets to the knowledge of the other party. Such disposition is always inappropriate, especially on the part of the mentee.

The lack of a framework for formal relationships was identified as a key systemic bottleneck to success of mentoring programmes. However, already informal mentoring relationship might have greater chances of high commitment to the relationship by both parties because of mutual interest and often more productive, through giving mentees opportunity to choose their prospective mentors. Even where such is practiced, there is a need to have established institutional bounds and limitations that will guide any mentor-mentee relationship. Formally established mentor-mentee relationships program offers a high chance of effective mentor-mentee pairs using a strong matching algorithm. In situation where there are lack of commitment on the part of one of the parties, mismatched learning styles, and a change in job assignments, open communication between the trio of mentor, mentee, and the mentoring program manager (MPM) is one good strategy towards ameliorating these challenges. The MPM can assist the pair to reconnect or terminate the relationship through the program “no-fault opt out” provision in situation where the MPM envisaged that the matched pair has low chance of succeeding. Furthermore, other factors potentially worsened by the absence of institutional or formalized mentor-mentee program are low willingness to assist less experienced mentee (mentee preference),[33] valuing of mentoring in workloads, performance expectations and promotion criteria, and incentives to mentor such as dedicated time and remuneration.[34]

Another organizational challenge is a clash of personality/mentorship style (57.9%). Even with a strong match algorithm, unfortunately, the mismatch between a mentor and mentee is still a possibility. The components of this mismatch are protean: conflicting personalities, varied career goals, varied areas of expertise, and variation in work ethic.[35] Issues on mismatch often manifest early in the relationship and are observed by either or both mentor and mentee. Any relationship that exhibits elements of mismatch, an attempt should be made to resolve it early or dissolve the relationship, because the longer it stays, the harder it is to find a resolution to it. There is always a need for the MPM to suggest a switch and find an appropriate mentor and mentee for each party.

Although the proportion of the participants who mentioned gender issues (15.8%) as identified organizational challenges in the mentor-mentee program were not high, the challenge deserved to be highlighted. Gender issues can be inequality in the spread of mentors, representation in decision-making committees reflectives of our society's patriarchal structure and poor understanding of gender roles. Females are less likely to have mentors or to receive formal mentorship early in their career compared to males.[36],[37],[38] Studies have reported a paucity of women mentors to junior female mentees.[39],[40] In general, although women were more likely to be mentored by men,[41],[42] female mentees prefer the same gender as mentors to seek better advice on career life planning,[43] work-life balance,[44] and timing of maternity leave,[30] suggesting that multiple mentors targeting career and lifestyle issues may suit female faculty. Nonetheless, a study has reported no significant differences in satisfaction with mentoring between those with a mentor of the same or different gender,[31] while another study reported that gender issues in mentoring are equally important for females and males.[22] Beyond matched gender, females also face other challenges such as the perception of sexual innuendos, rumors, overprotection, and paternalism.[45],[46] The study has some limitations among which is not conducting a Delphi survey that would have improved the generalization of the issues and challenges generated and their prioritization. Nevertheless, this can be done in a further study using the issues raised in this study as the basis. Another limitation is the paucity of research literature on the mentor-mentee program because this is an emerging concept among researchers in our locality. This has limited the possibility of comparing our findings with similar studies in our setting. However, concerted efforts were made to discuss the findings with the limited resources available. Hopefully, this will improve in future when more published work must have been done in the area of the mentor-mentee program.


   Conclusion Top


Significant mentorship challenges exist in the Nigerian health academic and research institutions, comprising mentor-related, mentee-related, and system-related issues. Systematic approaches to finding and implementing the appropriate solutions to these challenges could circumvent these bottlenecks, with a potential to foster healthy growth and development of critical manpower in the health and research institutions in Nigeria.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate participant consent forms. In the form, the participants have given their consent for their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The participants understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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