Purpose: Mentorship is a valuable mechanism of socializing faculty members to higher education, but understanding of how mentoring relationships develop is limited. The purpose of this study was to seek a more complete understanding of how mentoring relationships develop for junior faculty members, and how these effective mentoring relationships can be fostered. Method: A qualitative, phenomenological design was used to examine junior athletic training faculty members’ experiences with mentoring. Twenty athletic training faculty members: 14 women, 6 men, 32±3 years of age and averaged 2.4±2.1 years as a full-time faculty member in an accredited athletic training program participated in this study. Participants completed one telephone interview, which was audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed with an inductive phenomenological approach. Data saturation was obtained Trustworthiness strategies included peer review and the use of multi-analyst triangulation. Results: Junior faculty participated in informal and formal mentoring relationships that evolved over time, which aided their transition from doctoral student to full-time faculty member. Additionally, mentoring relationships were strengthened when participants took initiative, engaged in the relationship, and set clear goals. Mentors who exhibit good communication skills, willingness to participate, and genuine interest in the mentee are particularly valuable. Conclusions: Both formal and informal mentoring experiences appear to be valuable for junior faculty members, particularly informal relationships. If institutional mentoring programs are lacking then junior faculty should seek out additional mentoring opportunities. These findings also confirm existing literature on effective mentoring characteristics.

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Sara Nottingham, EdD, ATC is an Associate Professor in the Athletic Training program at the University of New Mexico and conducts research on clinical education, faculty development, and mentorship.

Dr. Stephanie Mazerolle, PhD, ATC, FNATA is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut. She is a Fellow of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and conducts research on socialization, mentoring, and clinical education.


This study was funded by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Research and Education Foundation research grant #1516EGP003.





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