What does it mean to be a mentor?
The meaning of the word “mentor” in modern English is “a trusted counselor or guide (Merriam-Webster).”
As many of you know, a mentor is an invaluable resource especially in the field of medicine. Some of you may have had a network of mentors, including family members, to help you along the path to get to medical school, and some of you may not have. The journey to medical school acceptance can be quite intimidating and challenging, and your encouragement and insight is very meaningful to an aspiring medical student. As a mentor you possess the wisdom to guide your mentee in a unique and meaningful way based on your experiences. In addition, you are a representation of your medical school and the osteopathic profession.
To summarize the article True mentorship in medicine by Ahmed Mian, MD, a good mentor exudes genuine enthusiasm, modifies their approach according to the mentee’s needs, consistently reflects on their roles, has excellent interpersonal skills, and is knowledgeable. They also provide constructive feedback when applicable. The atmosphere created by a good mentor promotes self-esteem and the importance of lifelong learning. Read the full article here.
What does it mean to be a mentee?
A mentee is one who is being mentored; a protégé (Merriam-Webster). The most important quality a mentee should have is “teachability.” A mentee should be humble and be ready to learn. This, combined with constant communication and critical thinking, will allow you to learn so much from your mentor.
If you have signed up for this mentorship program, you may be interested in learning more about osteopathic medicine to decide whether or not it’s the right fit for you. Or maybe you are already convinced that you are meant to be a DO! As a mentee, you are in a position to learn from someone who has gone through undergraduate school, the application process, and some medical school education. Feel free to ask your mentor questions about their path to medical school, as well as questions pertaining to your specific path. In your role as a mentee, is it up to you to get as much out of this relationship as you wish, and to be receptive to your mentor’s ideas.
Outlining the Mentee/Mentor Relationship
- Introductory email exchange (Q&A)
- Establishing the framework of the mentor/mentee relationship
- Set up a 30-minute meeting to chat and get to know each other
- Establish realistic mentor and mentee roles
- Discuss goals of mentor and mentee in this relationship
- Discuss preferred frequency/mode of communication
- Monthly check-ins
- Communication via email, text, or videochat (Zoom, Facetime, Facebook Video, etc)
Tips for mentees
- Take initiative! Reach out to your mentor and express interest in engaging in mentorship and learning from your mentor’s experiences.
- Ask questions. Your mentor signed up for this program because they are excited and passionate about helping pre-medical students! They are here for you, so don’t hesitate to ask questions.
- Be open. Your mentor may have ideas that challenge yours, and their path through pre-medical school may have been different than yours is, but a different point of view may offer a beneficial perspective. Don’t feel the need to impress your mentor; be honest about your interests and ideas to get the most out of this mentorship.
- Keep in touch. Mentors are invaluable throughout your journey through college, medical school, and beyond. We hope that through this mentorship you gain a long-term mentor and friend!
Tips for mentors
- Show interest. Your mentee is likely very excited and grateful to have someone to guide them through this challenging journey to medical school. While your mentee will have much to gain from you, you can gain a lot as well! Becoming a good mentor is key in medicine, and this is an opportunity for development and growth.
- Be approachable. For some mentees, this will be their first mentorship with a medical student, and it may be intimidating. Meet your mentee where they are and bring up situations and areas in which you can relate to them.
- Be honest. This is an opportunity for your mentee to get a sense of what applying to and attending medical school is truly like. Remember, however, that everyone’s experience is different and obstacles that you may have faced may not be faced by your mentee.
- Be positive! This can be a challenging time for your mentee, and positivity and motivation may be one of the most valuable thing you can offer!
Resources: Tips for Mentorship
- Forbes- 8 Tips for An Amazing Mentor Relationship: https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurencebradford/2018/01/31/8-tips-for-an-amazing-mentor-relationship/?sh=3e56d5c921e2
- ProspectiveDoctor.com- The Importance of Mentorship: https://www.prospectivedoctor.com/the-importance-of-mentorship/
- 5 Tips for Finding and Working With a Mentor: https://students-residents.aamc.org/choosing-medical-career/article/5-tips-finding-working-mentor/
- Tedx Talk- Science of Mentorship, Shawn Blanchard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hh46lVSKWHc
- Mentorship in Medicine: How to be a Mentee & Establish Strong Relationships with your Mentor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VSz9JWBfRU