Over the last decade, the number of health care doctoral students at Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS) has increased by over 10 fold with the increasing funding opportunities for capacity building for health care and health leadership [1, 2]. Funding for doctoral training had been realised through collaborative capacity building programs including among others; Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI)–Medical Education for All Ugandans (MESAU), Training Health Researchers into Vocational Excellence (THRIVE), Malaria Capacity Development Consortium (MCDC), Millenium Science Initiative (MSI), Netherlands University Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC) and Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). Each of these collaborative doctoral programs provides unique features that could be utilised to promote mentoring best practices for doctoral students at MakCHS. For example, a majority of the programs combine local and international supervision, with mentors from partner institutions, thereby providing a global perspective to the local doctoral training program. In addition, it is likely that the programs face some similar challenges since they all involve students at MakCHS and other medical schools in Uganda.
Mentoring best practices are critical to the sustainability of training clinicians, academicians, educators and researchers to understand and take up the critical gaps in global health leadership in developing countries [3, 4]. Mentoring for doctoral students is the alliance between the doctoral student and his/her major dissertation advisors, supervisors and/or mentors . During doctoral training, the mentoring process includes choosing the mentor, formalizing of the mentoring alliance, discussion of the mentor/mentee roles, and the evaluation of the mentoring process . A good mentoring process is a key variable for determining success in completing a doctoral program. Given the high investment in doctoral training, the current global climate of diminishing resources and the great need for building local capacity for higher education, understanding and examining the challenges to students’ ability to complete their doctoral degree requirements in a timely manner remains critical .
There are general guidelines for doctoral training at MakCHS that outline the various processes ranging from registration to completion as well as requirements for doctoral students and supervisors. However, implementation of the doctoral guidelines faces various challenges that may delay completion of doctoral training. Considering the limited pool of mentors at MAKCHS, it remains critical to equip doctoral supervisors/advisors with skills to develop mutually beneficial mentoring relationships with their doctoral trainees . We identified prevailing mentoring practices among the doctoral candidates and their mentors, identified the common challenges facing doctoral training, and proposed solutions to enhance the quality of the doctoral training experience for both the candidates and mentors at Makerere University and affiliated institutions. Strategies from this model could be scaled up in the region through the collaborative programs that involve students and mentors from several Universities within the country, the region and overseas.