Mentoring in the Medical Student Summer Research Program is defined as supporting and assisting the student (mentee) in the completion of his/her summer project. The mentor possesses the expertise that will facilitate the mentee’s academic and professional development through a one-on-one, committed relationship between the mentor and mentee.
- serves both as a teacher and as a supervisor. The mentor provides instruction, helps establish short-term goals and timelines for the mentee, critiques and edits written work of the mentee, reviews and tracks the mentee’s progress, provides feedback, and challenges the mentee.
- serves as a role model. The mentor imparts knowledge, experience, and professionalism both directly and indirectly through his/her behavior, attitudes, and perspectives.
- is flexible and adaptable to the needs of the mentee. The mentor should be willing to adapt his/her educational approach as the mentee progresses in his/her project and as the needs of the mentee change. Initially the mentor may need to play an active role in establishing short-term goals and timelines to maintain and reinforce progress. Later on, the mentor may serve more as a guide or consultant to the mentee.
- is available and has regularly scheduled, in person meetings with the mentee. The in-person meetings can be supplemented with communication via telephone, voice mail, or email. However, these forms of communication should not replace regularly scheduled face-to-face meetings.
Suggested “Do’s and Don’ts” for Strengthening Mentor-Mentee Relationships
Mentor Do’s Mentor Don’ts
Be available Don’t . . . write the research proposal
Convey respect and confidence Don’t . . . promote your own agenda
Focus on mentee Don’t . . . use “free labor”
Ask questions Don’t . . . take credit
Challenge mentee Don’t . . . make a “clone”
Don’t let your mentee procrastinate
Mentee Do’s Mentee Don’ts
Be punctual Don’t . . . avoid decisions
Follow through Don’t . . . rely exclusively on mentor
Set agendas Don’t . . . acquiesce
Communicate Don’t . . . over idealize
Modified from: Rose, G.L., M.R. Rukstalis, and M.A. Schuckit. 2005. Informal mentoring between faculty and medical students. Acad. Med. 80: 344-348.