Mentor Training Program in Zambia Continues to Strengthen Mentorship Among University Faculty

In academia, mentors can provide valuable support and guidance to students in their professional and personal development. However, often mentors do not receive training in theories and practical strategies that could improve their mentorship. Faculty leaders at the University of Zambia (UNZA) are changing this trend to offer training in mentorship theory and effective techniques for faculty in masters and doctoral programs. Led by Professors Fastone Goma, MBChB, PhD, MSc and Selestine Nzala, MBChB, MPH, the week-long workshop has been held twice at UNZA. This recent workshop represents an expansion of the program to collaborate with local universities, including Mulungushi University. Twenty faculty members were trained during this workshop.

SHEPIZ training

The original mentor training program, the Clayton-Dedonder Global Health Mentorship Fellows Program, was co-developed in 2018 by faculty and staff at the University of Zambia and the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH) in the United States of America. The program has nine modules on mentoring techniques and strategies that are taught using active learning strategies including case studies and small group discussions. More information about the program and its benefits for faculty, students, and health and education systems has been described in the article, Why Mentorship Matters in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.

The program utilizes a train-the-trainer model in which select trainees become co-leaders in the next iteration of the program. This model helps ensure sustainability of the program with a pipeline of trainers for future workshops.

Professor Fastone Goma

Program leaders plan to continue offering this workshop annually and to link the training with a leadership workshop to provide faculty a robust set of tools for leading and mentoring in academia. In addition, Dr. Nzala explained their vision for expanding these programs to students. “We are also trying to introduce a management course in the post-graduate program and used the model of the leadership program and incorporated elements of the mentor training program. We are expanding the reach of leadership and mentorship beyond faculty lecturers to train students.” Program leaders are thinking upstream to guide the next generation of leaders and mentors in health professions.

Additional faculty instructors include Drs. Angela Bwalya, Paul Kelly, Hikabasa Halwiindi, Lackson Kasonka, Margaret Maimbolwa, Nzooma Mataa, Patricia Mukwato, Sody Munsaka, Edford Sinkala, and Bellington Vwalika. Additional program material development and logistics were supported by Dr. Marie Martin and Elizabeth Rose at VIGH.

The program is part of the Strengthening Health Professional Workforce Education Programs for Improved Quality Health Care in Zambia (SHEPIZ), which is supported by the Fogarty International Center, National Institute of Health (grant number NIC FIC R25TW011219).