Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health

LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year
: 2016  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 80--81

Professional advisor and mentor: An important process for the higher education system in public health


Viroj Wiwanitkit 
 Public Health Curriculum, Surin Rajabhat University, Surin, Thailand

Correspondence Address:
Viroj Wiwanitkit
Public Health Curriculum, Surin Rajabhat University, Surin
Thailand




How to cite this article:
Wiwanitkit V. Professional advisor and mentor: An important process for the higher education system in public health.Ann Trop Med Public Health 2016;9:80-81


How to cite this URL:
Wiwanitkit V. Professional advisor and mentor: An important process for the higher education system in public health. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2016 [cited 2019 Dec 6 ];9:80-81
Available from: http://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2016/9/1/80/168701


Full Text

Dear Sir,

In public health, human resource managers plan important roles for the success of any work. Education is the basic concept to construct good attitude and practice. This can be applied to the educational process for a medical and public health worker. Higher education system [Master of Science (MSc), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), or board certification) is necessary for the improvement of human resources. In any higher educational institute, the student has to be assigned an advisor or mentor. Advising is usually rendered in the case of a lower level of education or undergraduate studies [Bachelor of Science (BSc.)]. Mentoring is usually rendered in the case of a higher level of education or postgraduate studies. Advising and mentoring are similar in concept though mentoring focuses more on research, development, and writing a thesis. Also, mentoring usually urges the student to find the information by showing the way or giving instructions on how to go about finding the information. The general goal of the assignment is to "develop performance-based abilities," "prepare for entry into the profession after graduation," and "provide exposure to different career opportunities." [1] It should be noted that the advisor's encouragement has a main contribution on the career preference of the student. [2]

The question on how to create an effective advisor and mentor system is a big issue for discussion. Fuhrmann et al. noted that standards for advising/mentoring graduate students were necessary and should include "career planning" and "professional skills development." [3] The graduate student is expected to be a good researcher, good teacher, good team player as well as a good leader to lead and effectively manage his/her research staff. [4] First, it should be noted that advising/mentoring is not counseling. Counseling might have similar information-gathering but counseling usually gives directions on how to act in the future, which is usually a passive process. On the other hand, good advising/mentoring should be an active process. Not giving direct information is the main concept of advising/mentoring. Realization of the self by the student for final decision-making is the main aim. Second, the relationship between the advisor and advisee or mentor and mentee is very important. [1],[5] Since the success depends on the process of working together or collaboration, a two-way communication is needed.

Mentorship has an impact on both personal and professional relationships, which is different from supervising that is rendered for a specific work (such as thesis). [6] Bird said that "accuracy and reliability of the information conveyed, access, stereotyping and tracking of advises, and the abuse of power are the main factors determining the success of mentoring." [6] Training is required to be a good advisor/mentor but it has been reported that most of the faculty members lack good training. [7] It has been proved that an appropriate mentor helps in progressing through any learning curve. [8] As noted by Siddiqui, in order to achieve success in public health work it is necessary to have a new class of mentors to play a role in mentoring our new generations. [9]

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1Zueger PM, Katz NL, Popovich NG. Assessing outcomes and perceived benefits of a professional development seminar series. Am J Pharm Educ 2014;78:150.
2Sauermann H, Roach M. Science PhD career preferences: Levels, changes, and advisor encouragement. PLoS One 2012;7:e36307.
3Fuhrmann CN, Halme DG, O'Sullivan PS, Lindstaedt B. Improving graduate education to support a branching career pipeline: Recommendations based on a survey of doctoral students in the basic biomedical sciences. CBE Life Sci Educ 2011;10:239-49.
4Kanwar RS. Skill set development of doctoral and post-doctoral graduates in life sciences. Commun Agric Appl Biol Sci 2010;75:47-55.
5Sullivan BM, Furner SE, Cramer GD. Development of a student-mentored research program between a complementary and alternative medicine university and a traditional, research-intensive university. Acad Med 2014;89:1220-6.
6Bird SJ. Mentors, advisors and supervisors: Their role in teaching responsible research conduct. Sci Eng Ethics 2001;7:455-68.
7Titus SL, Ballou JM. Ensuring PhD development of responsible conduct of research behaviors: Who's responsible? Sci Eng Ethics 2014;20:221-35.
8Cohen MS, Jacobs JP, Quintessenza JA, Chai PJ, Lindberg HL, Dickey J, et al. Mentorship, learning curves, and balance. Cardiol Young 2007;17(Suppl 2):164-74.
9Siddiqui S. Of mentors, apprenticeship, and role models: A lesson to relearn? Med Educ Online 2014;19:25428.