Impact of a Mentoring Program on Occupational Stress, Personal Strain, and Coping Resources of Newly Appointed U.S. Magistrate Judges
Problem. Judges experience occupational stress that manifests itself in physical and mental strain. Stress can be reduced by actual or perceived social support, such as mentoring. Procedures. Using a quasi-experimental design, this research investigated the results of a project that offered paired mentoring to newly appointed United States Magistrate Judges for a five-month period as part of their orientation program by the Federal Judicial Center. Judges in the experimental group (n=20) were mentored by six experienced judges who received training in social support mentoring. The comparison group (n=17) was not offered mentoring. The mentoring program consisted of regular contact and discussions on suggested topics, including concerns raised by the new judges. Osipow's Occupational Stress Inventory-Revised was used as a pre-treatment and post-treatment measure. Noe's Mentoring Function Scale was used to demonstrate that social support mentoring was received. Findings. The trends in scores for the experimental group were primarily downward in the areas of stress and strain, and upward in coping skills. Compared to male judges, female judges in both the experimental and comparison groups reported significantly higher levels of stress and strain in several domains, accompanied by significantly lower levels of coping skills. Conclusions. This study supports social support mentoring as an addition to traditional judicial orientation skill-building programs. Recommendations. Future studies should examine different types of mentoring, the different levels of stress reported by male and female judges, and the impact of the program on mentors.
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