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    How to Be a Successful Mentor

    Think back to the early days of your career. Do you recall feeling lost? Confused? Helpless? Maybe you were confident in your abilities overall but worried that you were missing a piece of the provider puzzle.

    Whatever your situation as a resident, you would likely have benefited from a partnership with a more experienced physician with whom you could share your concerns, troubles, and successes.

    Now that you’re a seasoned provider who is considering a mentorship with younger physicians, we have some tips to help you start your journey.

    What are the benefits of mentoring?

    First, take a minute to consider the benefits of mentoring:

    • Perspective. Mentees help you stay current and see medicine through fresh eyes.
    • Energy. A mentee’s enthusiasm can recharge your own love of medicine.
    • Gratification. There’s great satisfaction in positively impacting someone’s career.

    What are the types of mentors?

    There are a few types of mentors.

    It's important to note that not all mentorships are long-term. If you’re considering the possibility of being a mentor, but not ready for the long-term commitment, seek out “mentorship moments.” Mentorship moments are moments when you share your advice and experience in short conversations that will make a lasting impact on your audience. These moments can happen at conferences, in the hallways of your work, or even online.

    If you’re dedicated to the idea of becoming a mentor and want to build a long-term relationship with a mentee, consider what type of relationship you want to build:

    1. Career mentors help someone achieve a career goal.
    2. Life mentors or personal mentors wisely guide individuals through the hurdles of life.
    3. Peer mentors are colleagues who’ve “been there, done that” and use their experience to support their peers through similar circumstances.

    How do I get started as a mentor?

    Though it might be easier to try to follow certain steps to becoming a mentor, the truth is that there is no single path to mentorship.

    You may find your mentee in a structured environment or come across their path serendipitously.

    If the idea of waiting for a mentee to fall in your lap isn’t your cup of tea, consider searching for mentorship programs that will assign you someone to work with.

    In many cases, it’s best to choose one another. However, successful mentor relationships can often be built using more traditional methods like a matching program.

    What are the essential qualities of a mentee?

    If you want a successful mentor relationship, choose wisely!

    Look for: 

    • Accountability. Your mentee must be dedicated to learning and growing.
    • Transparency. Honesty is the best policy in mentor/mentee relationships. Your mentee should not be afraid to be honest with you—they should trust you enough to be transparent.
    • Humility. Your mentee should recognize their need to grow and learn!
    • Trustworthiness. If you can’t trust your mentee to take advice, take action, and follow through, your efforts to assist may be ineffective. 

    How do I create a positive mentor relationship?

    Once you find your match, there are some guidelines you should follow for a successful mentor relationship.

    Take these steps:

    1. Set expectations. Explain your role. Clearly define goals and boundaries from the beginning. This foundation of mutual understanding paves the way for productivity and focus.
    2. Practice active listening. Knowing and understanding your mentee is the key to success. This approach helps builds trust and enables you to provide meaningful support that is tailored to your mentee's specific needs and challenges.
    3. Share your mistakes. This is where you need to be humble! Sharing your mistakes is not only a great way for your mentee to learn, but it also helps them feel safe enough to open up about their doubts and failures. 
    4. Celebrate successes. Because much of the mentor relationship centers on problem-solving, it’s easy to become problem focused. Be sure to also take time to celebrate your mentee’s strengths and successes.


    Need some study tips to share with mentees who are residents or medical students? The brain-hacking techniques found in our StudyWise Guide will help them retain the must-know medical information they need to becoming successful physicians. Check it out!

    read the studywise guide


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