Promoting mentoring support and development: Views and benefits of an iMentor network
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Department of Midwifery, International Hellenic University, Thessaloniki, Greece
Department of Early Childhood Care & Education, International Hellenic University, Thessaloniki, Greece
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Eleftheria Taousani   

Department of Midwifery, International Hellenic University, Thessaloniki, Greece
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A27
A variety of strategies have been proposed to support students’ dropout and successful completion in higher studies. Mentoring support is a critical element of comprehensive intervention strategies. An iMentor network had been established through an innovative project called “UMBRELLA” that was developed in the context of the Operational Programme «Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning 2014 – 2020» of the International Hellenic University, for the provision of individualized help and guidance at an academic, social and emotional level to students who belong in ‘sensitive’ social groups. At the undergraduate level, mentorship typically involves support functions as psycho-social-emotional support (i.e., counseling, guidance, and encouragement), instrumental support (i.e. skill development through assistance on challenging tasks and opportunities for advancement), or coauthoring experiences (i.e. collaborative presentations or publications of research). Mentorship can also involve role modeling support serving as an inspiration and example of success. iMentor network acted on a person-centered level basis, as a pool of volunteer’s senior students of the Alexander campus of IHU who had offered individualized help and guidance at an academic, social and emotional level to students in need through physical communication and e-services throughout their studies. These students have been trained by experts to acquire counseling skills, basic interpersonal skills, personal and work improvement practices, etc. prior to supporting students from sensitive groups. The aim of this study is to present the experience and the benefits derived through the participation of Midwifery Department which joined UMRELLA project.

Material and Methods:
Data had been collected from 2019 to 2022. Fourteen (14) volunteered students of Midwifery Department (out of 180 IHU students) participated in the iMentor network. There have been conducted interviews where the mentors mentioned their views and level of satisfaction for the training seminars and their interaction with the students in need. The responses were analyzed using content analysis. In terms of ensuring reliability in the categorization of texts, coding was performed separately by two researchers. The overall agreement rate between the two researchers in categorizing all responses was 84.2%.

The students´ feedback regarding their involvement in the iMentor network was highly positive. The students emphasized that they felt empowered and gain moral satisfaction by supporting their protégés who were at risk and vulnerable. Moreover, they admit that through the training they have received from the experts of the Umbrella structure, they acquired important counselling & communications skills and they recorded in their CV an important voluntary social activity. Specifically, the benefits were: (a) Moral satisfaction, (b) Emergence of solidarity, (c) volunteering, (d) acquiring new counseling skills /knowledge, (e) skills for personal improvement, (f) acquisition of new acquaintances/friendships.

Conclusions and further research:
The importance of the existence of an i-Mentor support model allows the development of an individualized support approach. The personal communication of the i-Mentors with their protegee students and the ability of an i-Mentor to understand the personality, the specific needs, the abilities and the skills of the vulnerable students, will allow the provision of targeted support that cannot be achieved through the traditional or non-individualized counseling services. A further research aim can be to utilize and evaluate the i-mentors participation after the completion of their studies. It is considered particularly important to transfer their experience and know-how to the new i-mentors who will join in the UMBRELLA structure.

We would like to express our thanks to student midwives Mentors who have participated in the UMPRELLA project.
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
European Union, European Social fund - Operational Programme «Human Resourses Development, Education and Lifelong Learning 2014 – 2020».
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