STARS Peer Mentorship Program

Provide peer-to-peer mentorship, structure, and guidance for STARS students.

To provide your local STARS students (past, present, and future) with a better understanding of the STARS program, both locally and nationally, so that student-led, high-value care initiatives are more cohesive, successful, and sustainable.

Many medical schools have multiple cohorts of STARS students asynchronously moving forward multiple, high-value care initiatives. Future cohorts of STARS may not be familiar with the many curriculum and clerkship initiatives that exist at your school and/or they may not be aware of many local high-value care resources available to them. The Peer Mentorship Program is simple to implement and helps to reinforce a community for your past, present, and future STARS -all of whom have invaluable individual and collective experiences in the STARS program that allow them to serve as peer mentors to help address roadblocks and ensure both personal, and professional, progress throughout the years.


  1. Current cohort of STARS students finish their 1-year in the central STARS program;
  2. Reach out to faculty mentor to assist with selecting the next STARS cohort for your school;
  3. Once newest STARS cohort selected, hold an introductory meeting in December/early January, prior to the central STARS January Leadership Summit (see “Helpful Resources” below and view “Exemplar – The Ohio State University” folder):
    1. led by students, but faculty mentor is there for support;
    2. briefly preps new STARS for the central STARS January Leadership Summit;
    3. reviews past and current, local and national STARS initiatives;
    4. allow for questions.
  4. Once newest STARS cohort attends central STARS January Leadership Summit, arrange for a post-summit meeting in late January/early February (see “Helpful Resources” below and view “Exemplar – The Ohio State University” folder):
    1. led by students, but faculty mentor is there for support;
    2. debrief on what was discussed/learned at January Leadership Summit;
    3. discuss initiative planning – past, current, and/or future initiatives;
    4. be clear about timeline, practical steps, role expectations for moving initiatives forward – see step 5 for more detail
  5. New STARS students complete logic model, Gantt chart, and/or SWOT analysis for each initiative idea and receive feedback from mentorship team:
    1. new STARS students identify initiative ideas and may choose to work on each initiative individually, in pairs, or in teams;
    2. for each initiative, complete a logic model and Gantt chart to help define initiative components and identify key timing goals (see “Helpful Resources” below for links to logic models/Gantt charts and view “Exemplar – The Ohio State University” );
    3. new STARS students may opt to complete a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis for each initiative, as well (see “Helpful Resources” below for SWOT analysis details);
    4. mentorship team reviews logic models, Gantt charts, and any SWOT analyses to provide constructive feedback based on prior experiences, anticipated curriculum changes, awareness of potential institutional roadblocks and hierarchy, etc.
  6. Transition to monthly meetings to mentor and move forward specific initiatives:
    1. 1:1 peer-to-peer advising – past STARS match up 1:1 with current STARS;
    2. faculty mentors available for questions and additional support.


INTRODUCTORY Meeting PRIOR to Central STARS January Leadership Summit (ppt courtesy of The Ohio State University):

DEBRIEFING Meeting AFTER the Central STARS January Leadership Summit (ppt courtesy of The Ohio State University):

Developing a Logic Model (CDC)

Logic Model Templates and Examples (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Gantt Charts (Project Manager)

Gantt Chart Examples and Templates for Effective Project Management (Venngage)

SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (University of Kansas)

Best Practices

  • Match previous STARS to mentor and work with current STARS in a 1:1 manner
  • Encourage M3/M4 STARS to bring both their clinical experience and practical understanding of the M3/M4 curriculum/clerkships to the group
  • Focus on realistic “deliverables” for each initiative – and push the scholarly aspect of STARS (poster presentations, publishing, grand round presentations, etc.)

Lessons Learned

  • Define up front mentorship roles and philosophies for your mentorship team to help guide them through difficult decisions and ensure consistency and accountability
  • Empower new STARS students to take action in alignment with the mentorship team’s goals
  • Diffusion of responsibility is a serious challenge that new STARS students face – assign individual students (or teams of students) to complete a logic model, Gantt chart, and/or SWOT for each initiative to help proactively address this problem
  • Timing matters for projects – students and faculty both have busy times during the year (exam weeks, holiday seasons, etc.) and this information should be incorporated into Gantt charts and initiative planning

“An engaged, purposeful STARS peer mentorship program can provide effective institutional memory – past cohorts can share their knowledge and experience within a particular institution to help make new initiatives efficient and successful.” – Faculty Mentor

“STARS peer mentors help to offer advice and accountability to new STARS throughout the year and can bolster the guidance provided by faculty mentors.” – STARS Peer Mentor

“When past STARS cohorts participate in a peer mentorship program, they can learn new leadership and project management skills, which they can utilize throughout their careers.” – STARS Student


Benjamin Dralle is an MD student (MS4) at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. He participated in the Choosing Wisely STARS program in 2020 and later joined the Costs of Care team as a Social Media Manager and Student Advisor. During his time in the STARS program, he helped to create and evaluate an elective course for pre-clinical medical students that taught high-value care and affordability concepts. He then went on to develop Ohio State’s STARS peer mentorship program, which empowers past STARS cohorts to take on new leadership roles. Mr. Dralle plans to pursue residency training in psychiatry and is eager to address value- and affordability-related challenges within this field.

Michael Ioerger MD, PhD, MPH, CSCS, ACE-FNS is a queer Indigenous physician-scientist who is committed to creating stronger-healthier communities through innovations in primary care. Maximizing quality of life and resource stewardship, while minimizing financial harm and leveraging the power of interpersonal relationships are central tenets of his work and practice.