Mentoring: Essential to an international medical graduate’s education

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 56, No. 9, November 2014, Page 429 Letters

The current success of an international medical graduate the Canadian Resident Matching Service is dependent on several important factors. These include clinical exposure in the Canadian or American system, research publications, letters of reference from physicians affiliated with a residency program, continuity of their medical education, and successful completion of Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination and Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination, Parts I and II. Often overlooked in this list, however, is the importance of a good mentor.

Mentors can help international medical graduates prepare for residency and develop the skills they need for the ever-evolving clinical environment. Mentoring also provides support and helps graduates grow more proficiently. It creates a dynamic environment where one can ask questions to better understand their career choices and obtain a realistic picture of the working world. Additionally, graduates can expand their networks in their area of clinical interest. Overall, mentoring can benefit both the graduate and mentor. For the graduate, benefits include career development, improved relationships with faculty, greater interest in research, aspirations toward academic careers, better academic performance, and emotional benefits such as improved self-esteem and reduced stress.[1] For the mentor, positive mentorship experiences offer the satisfaction of helping and positively affecting somebody’s career.[1]

While mentorship is a facilitator for career success and selection, it is challenged by increased clinical, research, and administrative demands.[2] Graduates must select the appropriate mentor based on a variety of characteristics, such as whether they can provide networking opportunities, advice on career progress, and guidance; be a good role model; and facilitate decision making.[2] Other characteristics of an effective mentor include being approachable, accessible, altruistic, understanding, patient, and honest.[2

Mentorship is fundamental to professional accomplishment and poor choices can lead to difficulties in career advancement.
—Rajesh Nair, MD
International Medical Graduate and 2015 Residency Applicant


1.    Fornari A, Murray TS, Menzin AW, et al. Mentoring program design and implementation in new medical schools. Med Educ Online 2014;19:24570.
2.    Straus SE, Chatur F, Taylor M. Issues in the mentor-mentee relationship in academic medicine: A qualitative study. Acad Med 2009;84:135-139.

Rajesh Nair, MD. Mentoring: Essential to an international medical graduate’s education. BCMJ, Vol. 56, No. 9, November, 2014, Page(s) 429 - Letters.

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