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A systematic review of the literature describing the outcomes of near-peer mentoring programs for first year medical students

BACKGROUND:

Transition into higher education has been identified as one of the most stressful periods for learners. Interventions targeting the transition phase such as near- peer mentoring might help address some of these challenges. We were however unable to identify a published systematic review of the literature describing outcomes of near-peer mentoring of medical students during the transition phase into medical school. The aim of this paper is to review the literature and describe the outcomes of near-peer mentoring schemes for first-year medical students in the transition phase.

METHODS:

A search of different electronic databases was carried out, using the search terms peer, buddy, mentor*, counsel*, advise*, tutor*, student, medical, school. 1861 articles were identified, however only 5 studies met the inclusion criteria- primary mentees should be first-years, and mentors must be inclusive of second-years but not limited to them. In reporting this paper, the PRISMA guidelines were followed.

RESULTS:

Published material on near-peer mentoring for medical students is scarce. Three outcomes for peer mentoring were identified- professional and personal development, stress reduction, and ease of transitioning. Incidentally, peer-mentoring was also found to have facilitated the development of personal and professional attitudes in the mentors. The quality of the evaluation methods in the studies was however low to moderate.

CONCLUSION:

Near-peer-mentoring is a way of promoting professional and personal development. It is also promising to aid transition and maintain well-being of first-year medical students. However, larger, better quality longitudinal studies, are needed to ascertain its true value for these students.

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