The Life Course of Mentorship: Learning Pearls for Mentors and Mentees
Recognition of transitions is key as mentoring relationships develop; expectations and career circumstances evolve and transitions occur over time.
Mentoring need not necessarily end when either a mentor or mentee leaves the institution.
It is important to recognize a mentee’s need and readiness for independence.
Explicit Expectations Facilitate Transitions
Clarify and discuss expectations at each stage, including the length of the relationship and and expected transitions.
It is important that any issue be discussable, including when to make a transition or terminate the relationship.
Seek outside consultation if roles and expectations are unclear or issues are unresolved.
Consultation can be especially helpful for a mentee if his mentor is his superior/supervisor.
Consultation should be sought from someone who has the respect and trust of both the mentor and mentee.
Plan in advance for transitions, e.g., when a mentor or mentee leaves the institution or assumes a new role or project.
Leaders (chairs, chiefs, directors) should be involved in communication during mentoring transitions e.g., alerting colleagues, identifying new mentors/mentees, and making introductions.
Consider a mentor transition as being similar to a transition in a physician‐patient relationship in which the physician bears some responsibility for helping her patient find a new provider when the relationship ends.
Electronic media have expanded the potential for developing long‐distance mentoring relationships.
One caveat is that electronic communication also creates hurdles in many areas of mentoring, including mentoring assumptions, authorship, and accountability.
Authorship issues are pervasive in mentoring.
It is important to understand veiled (e.g., funding of lab) roles in authorship decisions.
Senior faculty who are “true” mentors are altruistic about authorship, and at some point give up authorship positions on their mentees’ publications.
Authorship conflicts are often symptomatic of, and can be exacerbated by, mentoring transitions.
It is necessary to become familiar with the authorship guidelines for your institution.
Issues unique to the nature of mentoring in science/healthcare
Multi‐disciplinary and collaborative projects with cross‐disciplinary mentors require additional communication of expectations and roles, especially as mentoring relationships and authorship positions change.
Given the unpredictable path of scientific discovery, it is difficult to identify future mentors far in advance.