“Mentoring is a critical part of personal growth and development and affords a lifetime of opportunity to grow and develop.” ~ Lisa Fain, Bridging Differences for Better Mentoring: Lean Forward, Learn and Leverage

“Mentoring is one of the most important responsibilities of faculty; it’s part of our role, part of our job, part of our passion.” ~ Dr. Lori McMahon, Dean of the Graduate School

The Mentor/Mentee Relationship

When we think about mentoring, we often think about what the mentor/mentee relationship affords the mentee. But the relationship, when purposefully carried out, should be mutually beneficial for both the mentor, who has a wealth of knowledge to share, and the mentee, who brings new ideas and passion to the subject matter.

A positive mentor/mentee relationship grows with time and can follow both parties well into their respective careers.

Further to this, a positive mentoring experience is incredibly valuable not only within the academic and personal realms, but it also has the power to impact the lives of others beyond the mentor-mentee pair. For example, the development  and publishing of scholarly works in the arts and humanities will enrich lives of those directly involved, and those in the local and global community.

In STEM fields, a positive mentor-mentee experience can increase funding opportunities and the perpetuation of consequential research. For example, funding agencies, such as the NIH and NSF, have expectations and instruction for faculty involved in the mentoring process. Meeting these expectations is crucial for the development of funding opportunities that make it possible for us all to continue vital scholarship.

The Graduate School’s Commitment to Mentoring

UAB’s Graduate School is dedicated to both fostering the critical relationship between mentors and mentees and making sure that these relationships are in compliance with funding agencies’ expectations for mentors. We recognize that this relationship is crucial for the success of our trainees, and we want it to be a positive experience for both the mentor and the mentee across disciplines.

It’s also easy to forget that mentoring is a powerful position that comes with its own gravitas: funding, student retention, and the choices that students make once they complete graduate school are all connected to mentoring.

According to Dr. Lori McMahon, Dean of the Graduate school, “mentoring guidance can make the difference between a student completing a PhD or not; it can make the difference between a student choosing a research career or not. Sometimes mentoring is providing tough love, but it’s also about being a cheerleader and supporter.”

Because of the tremendous responsibility of mentoring, the Graduate School is proud to present “Mentoring Matters,” a new course in mentoring designed to provide a critical skill set for mentoring undergraduates, graduate students, and/or postdoctoral fellows.

What is “Mentoring Matters”?

“Mentoring Matters” is a fully-developed/at your own pace UAB eLearning & Professional Studies course for mentors with a blended learning approach of both online and in-person/remote learning.

Within “Mentoring Matters,” the mentor will be supported by evidence-based approaches and resources for successful mentoring. There are three online modules required for completion.

Once these modules are completed, mentors will attend an in-person/remote session to discuss the mentoring relationship through the lens of these modules. During this two hour session, attendees will be invited to participate in activities that reinforce the content of the modules and to participate in a Q&A session with senior faculty members.

The “Mentoring Matters” Modules

Each module is taught by faculty here at UAB who are familiar with our student body and the need for positive and thoughtful models of mentorship. In order to best support mentors, the course is separated into three modules designed to give the mentor a holistic approach to mentoring

Within the course, there is an online training component, which walks the mentor through the following modules:

  1. Mentoring Today’s Mentees,
  2. Culturally Relevant Mentoring, and
  3. Promoting Mentees’ Mental Health and Wellness.

Within the Mentoring Today’s Mentees module, UAB’s Dr. Tonya Perry (Education) and Dr. Ed Cook (Psychology) give an overview of the importance of the mentor/mentee relationship and the ways in which it can set the trainee up for success.

In the Culturally Relevant Mentoring module, Dr. Paulette Dilworth, VP for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, explores aspects and approaches to culturally relevant mentoring. Fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within the mentoring relationship is crucial for the success of the trainee, and Dr. Dilworth gives mentors resources, suggestions, and data related to topics such as recognizing micro-aggressions; building cultural competence; and developing an inclusive training environment.

Finally, the Promoting Mentee’s Mental Health and Wellness module is delivered by Dr. Angela Stowe, Director, Student Counseling Services and Wellness Promotion and Dr. Chad Petit in the School of Medicine. A crucial topic for any mentor/mentee relationship, this module helps mentors identify factors that affect a trainee’s mental health; practice and promote wellness habits; and become familiar with UAB’s institutional mental-health related resources and how to access them.

Successful completion of each module, which requires about 20-30 minutes to complete, is defined by a quiz score of 80% or greater.

Once the modules have been completed, mentors can then look forward to joining an in-person/remote session to discuss the content of the modules and receive feedback from senior faculty members who have been recognized as valuable mentors within the UAB community.

The dates for the in-person/remote sessions (choose one) for Fall 2020 include:

  • 7am - 9am Tuesday, Sept. 29th
  • 11am - 1pm Wednesday, Oct. 28th
  • 5pm - 7pm Monday, Nov. 16th

To register, click here

You and “Mentoring Matters”

It’s not an institutional secret that the mentoring relationship can be one of the most challenging relationships of one’s career--both for the mentor and the mentee.

In fact, Dr. McMahon notes that “Faculty have to be purposeful about being a good mentor. You can’t just assume you are; you have to self-assess and ask yourself if you are a good mentor for each mentee you have. It takes a lot of energy to be a good mentor.”

Alleviating the stress and potential areas of conflict between these two parties is one of the goals of this course. But overall, the ultimate goal is to help mentors guide trainees successfully. For these reasons, the Graduate School has worked diligently to provide this resource for mentors.

Faculty mentors of trainees participating in the T32, K12, and other training programs, as well as faculty mentors applying for graduate faculty status, are required to invest in their mentoring skills through this program. Mentors will also be expected to renew this training every five years.

We are excited to launch this program that will undoubtedly strengthen the mentor’s understanding and support of the mentor/mentee relationship. We encourage you to reach out to Dr. Lisa Schwiebert with questions.

To register for the sessions, click here