Date Presented 04/22/2023

Mentoring provides guidance for students during their academic and professional journeys. This study’s results offer recommendations to OT faculty and institutions to promote culturally responsive mentoring for OT students from historically marginalized groups.

Primary Author and Speaker: Shanteria Carr

Additional Authors and Speakers: Janet Njelesani

Mentorship provides a source of support and guidance for students throughout their education. Ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, and culture influence the connection with a mentor and impact the success that stems from the mentor relationship (Lechuga, 2011). Despite the importance of mentorship to students’ academic and professional careers, there is limited information within OT literature about the mentoring experiences of students from underrepresented groups. Therefore, to address this gap in the literature, this study sought to explore the mentoring needs and experiences of OT students from historically marginalized groups in order to design culturally responsive mentor programs. A descriptive quantitative study was conducted using a 36-item electronic survey to examine the mentoring needs of OT students. The survey was distributed to OT students living in a large urban city in the United States. The survey included questions about academic advising, induction, challenges, communication, and emotional needs. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and between-group comparisons. Responses to open-ended questions were subjected to interpretative content analysis. In total, 115 OT students responded to the survey. Thirty-seven responses indicated the needs of OT students from historically marginalized groups. Results identified students’ desire to have a mentor who considers their own assumptions, biases, and prejudices, as well as having a mentor with relevant clinical and research experience working with diverse populations. Participants indicated that mentorship can help them prepare for the NBCOT exam, increase their work/life balance, facilitate the transition from student to practitioner, provide guidance through decision-making processes, promote self-confidence, and help them cope with systemic racism such as navigating microaggressions. The results from this study highlighted critical gaps in the mentoring needs of OT students from historically marginalized groups, including requiring more guidance on clinical skill development from those who have navigated similar challenges, and coping with work-life balance and networking as they may have fewer professional networks. These gaps could be addressed by programs through initiatives such as cross-cultural mentoring programs.


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