The Current Status of Retirement Mentoring in Academic Surgery in the United States

Author(s): Sherif Aly, Allan Stolarski, Patrick O’Neal, Edward Whang, Gentian Kristo

Background: Although successful retirement planning improves the well-being of retiring surgeons and facilitates effective succession strategies, the status of retirement mentoring in academic surgery remains unknown. The present study was designed to evaluate the presence of mentoring for retirement in the departments of surgery in the United States. 

Material and methods: A survey consisting of 5 questions (2 multiple choice; 3 yes/no) was sent to 170 chairs of departments of surgery in the United States in March 2019 regarding the presence and structure of mentoring for retirement in their department and their attitude towards retirement mentoring. The analysis of the data was performed in April 2019. 

Results: A total of 53 of 170 surveys were completed (31.2% response rate). There was no mandatory retirement age in any of the participating departments of surgery. Only two of 53 department chairs (3.8%) reported having an established mentorship for retirement for their senior faculty. At both departments mentoring for retirement consisted in informal pairing of mentors with mentees, without any financial support for the mentorship. Most department chairs [42 of 53; (79.2%)] considered retirement mentoring beneficial for senior faculty nearing retirement. Only 7 (13.2%) respondents found retirement mentoring not necessary as they believe senior surgeons have sufficient life experience and social support to deal with transition into retirement. Out of 42 respondents who found mentoring for retirement important, the vast majority (36; 85.8%) believe that it should be formally provided by their department of surgery vs. six of 42 (14.2%) respondents who consider that it should be the mentee’s responsibility to find a mentor inside and/or outside the department.

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