The Penn State College of Medicine supports faculty mentoring through the Junior Faculty Development Program (JFDP) and the Mentoring Academy. These programs employ the concept of Functional Mentoring to meet the needs of junior faculty.

Functional mentoring "occurs between a faculty member with specific needs and a mentor with the specific skills and expertise to meet those needs" (Thorndyke et al, 2009). In the JFDP, each junior faculty participant proposes a project related to their major mission responsibilities. They are asked to define the aspects of the project for which they need guidance and that information is used to identify a senior faculty member with the appropriate skills and experience. We have used the success of the projects undertaken by the junior faculty as a marker of the success of the mentoring relationship (Thorndyke et al, 2008). Many of these relationships, initiated through functional mentoring, are maintained as broader and more traditional mentoring relationships after the junior faculty member has completed the JFDP. Since the JFDP was established in 2003, over 230 faculty members have engaged in new mentoring relationships.


  • Functional mentoring: A practical approach with multilevel outcomes.
    Thorndyke LT, Gusic ME & Milner RJ.  Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions 28: 157–64 (2008).
    (download pdf)
  • Find a Functional Mentor.
    Thorndyke LT, Gusic ME & Milner RJ. Academic Physician & Scientist January 2009.