Virtual Mentoring: Two Adaptive Models for Supporting Early-career Simulation Investigators in the Era of Social Distancing
AEM Educ Train
© 2020 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Background: Early-career simulation investigators identify limited mentorship as a common barrier to disseminating scholarship and launching a successful academic career in emergency medicine (EM). Conferences often bridge this gap, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced their indefinite delay. Virtual solutions are needed to capitalize on the breadth of national simulation research experts and grow mentorship in a postpandemic world. Methods: We developed two complementary innovations to facilitate scholarship development and minimize COVID-associated career challenges resulting from social distancing requirements. The e-fellows forum (FF) provides a capstone experience for works-in-progress and the e-consultation service (CS) supports simulation research during the earlier project stages of design and development. In conjunction with the Society for Academic Medicine’s Simulation Academy, we applied videoconferencing technology for both of these novel, virtual innovations. We analyzed corresponding chat transcripts and detailed field notes for emerging themes. In addition, we collected quantitative data via participant surveys regarding their experiences and impact on their projects. Results: Nine simulation fellows presented at the FF and seven junior simulation investigators participated in the CS sessions. Most preferred the virtual format (56% FF, 66% CS) and found the sessions to be helpful in project advancement (66% FF, 100% CS). COVID-19 affected most projects (89% FF, 67% CS). We identified three themes via qualitative analysis: design concerns and inquiries, validation or support shown by mentors and peers, and professional cohesion. Conclusions: Participants felt that both virtual mentorship innovations advanced their simulation research projects and fostered a sense of professional cohesion within a greater community of practice. These benefits can be powerful at a time where simulation researchers in EM feel disconnected in an era of social distancing. Our future work will include adaptations to a hybrid model with both virtual and in-person modalities as well as creation of more e-mentorship opportunities, thus broadening the early-career simulation research community of practice.
School of Medicine