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What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a voluntary and ongoing process in which a more senior faculty member facilitates the professional and personal growth of a less experienced colleague. Mentors can help mentees in a number of different ways: by teaching, coaching and being a role model; by challenging mentees to grow and step outside their comfort zone; by opening doors and creating opportunities; and by serving as a support person and advocate.

Do I need a mentor?

Yes! Mentors can be very helpful at all stages of professional development. Research has demonstrated that mentorship can have an important and positive influence on personal development, research productivity, performance evaluations, and overall career progress.

Can I only have one mentor?

Mentees are not limited to one mentor. It is often helpful to have multiple mentors, as no one individual can serve all needed mentoring functions.

Does my mentor have to be inside the department?

Ideally, at least one mentor should be from inside the department. Additional mentors can be from either inside or outside the department.

How do I select a mentor?

Mentees typically seek out someone with similar clinical, research, or teaching interests. As you consider possible mentors, try to gather information about both their professional (e.g., knowledge, competence, track record for mentoring) and personal (e.g., emotional intelligence, insight, availability) characteristics. It is also useful to consider potential mentors’ interpersonal and professional dynamics. When you have created a “short list” of possible mentors, try to create opportunities for informal interactions with them, and use your experiences in those interactions to guide your decision making.

I'm still not sure who would be the best mentor for me. What should I do?

It is not uncommon, especially for people new to the department, to not know who a good mentor for them might be. Whatever the reason you are not sure who could serve in this capacity for you, you may want to speak to your immediate supervisor and ask for guidance in identifying and/or reaching out to possible mentors. Alternatively, you can contact Dr. Kaslow, and she will assist in assigning a mentor to you based on your areas of interest.

I do have a potential mentor in mind. What do I do next?

You may ask the individual if they will serve as your mentor. If the person agrees to be your mentor, inform Dr. Kaslow. Alternatively, you may ask Dr. Kaslow to invite someone to serve as your mentor.

What is a mentor¿s role?

A mentor and mentee should establish a trusting, collaborative partnership. The mentor should help the mentee set and work toward goals, navigate professional pitfalls, meet other professionals, and identify career enhancement opportunities. Furthermore, the mentor should serve as a sounding board, give constructive and honest feedback, and provide non-judgmental support and validation. It is also valuable if the mentor is a good role model that has high professional and moral character and attends to issues of gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, culture, and other forms of diversity.

What are the characteristics of a good mentee?

Good mentees are ambitious, self-motivated, and readily assume the responsibility for their own growth and development. They are interested in new experiences, proactive, and take initiative. Good mentees are efficient in their use of time and respect boundaries. They are also receptive to feedback and can take criticism the right way.

What does the mentoring relationship look like?

Mentors and mentees should work together to define their relationship, considering factors such as how formal or informal the relationship will be, goals for the mentee, responsibilities of each party, etc. The mentor and mentee may wish to utilize the Mentoring Partnership Agreement to guide their interactions.

How often should I meet with my mentor?

Meeting timelines will vary across mentors/mentees, though meeting at least once a quarter is strongly encouraged.

How long does a mentoring relationship last?

The duration of a mentoring relationship depends on the quality and nature of the interactions and the needs of the mentee. Such relationships may be of relatively short duration (e.g., one year) or last a professional lifetime. Mentor-mentee assignments will be reconsidered annually in the department.

What happens if there is a conflict or concern with the mentoring relationship?

If either the mentor or the mentee feels they are no longer compatible for any reason, they are encouraged to share this directly with the other party. In addition, the person desiring a change is welcome to speak with the Vice Chair for Faculty Development or another Vice Chair or the Chair to receive assistance in making a change. Requests for such changes will be honored. In addition, once each year Dr. Kaslow sends out a survey regarding people’s mentoring relationships and that often serves as the time people elect to change mentors or mentees.

What is a peer mentoring group and why should I consider joining one?

Peer mentoring groups consist of two or more faculty members with similar interests (e.g., integrated care; serious mental illness; addictions; trauma; etc.). Faculty within a group are often of the same rank, but they may differ with regard to level of involvement in scholarship, service, and teaching. Peer mentoring groups provide opportunities for faculty to support one another and advance career aspirations through networking, partnership, and information sharing.

Is there departmental support for mentors?

There is not specific financial support for faculty members to serve as mentors for their more junior colleagues. Engaging as a mentor is viewed as a component of one’s professional service to the department, the institution, and one’s colleagues. As such, it is recommended that mentoring relationships be included in one’s Service Portfolio description. There also is a department mentoring award, as well as School of Medicine level awards. However, most people serve as mentors because it is rewarding and people enjoy being generative.  

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