Mentoring in medicine is common for furthering education and professional development but finding the right mentor for the right time in your career can be difficult. Here are some tips for finding your best mentor:
What makes a good mentor?
- Has the time to be a mentor
- Asks important questions
- Communicates effectively
- Invested in you
- Track record of being a good mentor
Remember that mentorship often comes from more than one person for different roles whether they are career mentors, research mentors, content mentors, life mentors, and even money mentors.
It’s important to outline for yourself what you want to get out of the mentorship experience and what aspects of your career or life you want guidance on. This can help guide you when trying to choose a mentor that is right for you.
Meeting with your mentor
- Reach out to someone in your field that you admire or would like to emulate. Asking this person about research opportunities or to help with writing a paper can work to develop a working relationship that may turn to a mentorship opportunity
- Ask colleagues who they would recommend as a mentor that have similar career goals
- Look for a mentor who may do things different than you – this can give a fresh perspective
- Your mentors will not all be senior physicians many years ahead of you, so look around at colleagues or program directors
During the beginning of your mentor-mentee relationship, you should sit down with your mentor to establish what will work best for correspondence and frequency of meetings. The frequency of these meetings will depend on the purpose of the mentor and what projects they are helping you with.
“For mentors assisting you in research projects, the expectation should be that your mentor has the time to discuss your progress and next steps somewhere between once a week and once a month,” Dr. Jose McFaline Figueroa of Dana-Faber Cancer Institute advises. “For mentors giving you career development tips or ‘life’ advice, it may be sufficient to meet two to four times a year to check in and to help you establish connections with other important individuals as your career progresses.”
Communicating with your mentor in-between meetings is essential for keeping each other updated. Sending regular emails to let them know what you’re working on, what progress has been made, your timeline, and any questions shows that you’re invested in the relationship.
“The most important thing is that you know your mentor is available if you need him or her whether you meet often or only occasionally,” says Jeffrey Tosoian, fellow at the University of Michigan. Mentoring in medicine is common for furthering education and professional development but finding the right mentor for the right time in your career can be difficult.