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Mentoring Models

▼ One-on-one mentoring

The one-on-one model of mentoring is individualized and personal. This is wonderful for developing a close relationship. However, the model offers only one point of view and may not meet the mentee's needs if the mentor is not well versed in all of the mentee's areas of interest.

▼ Team mentoring

The collaborative nature of basic, clinical, and translational research often requires a team-based approach for success. Thus, as a mentee assembles his or her team of research investigators, it may be helpful to consider team mentoring. In the team mentoring model, the mentee and mentors meet jointly as a team. This model has benefits for everyone. The mentors can discover new colleagues with whom to collaborate. The mentee has access to different points of view and to discussions among more senior investigators, and issues regarding conflicting advice or demands can be negotiated without the mentee feeling pulled in different directions.

▼ Multiple mentors

In this model, the mentee has more than one mentor, and the mentors meet individually with the mentee. While some of the benefits of team mentoring are lost, this method may be easier to manage, given busy schedules and the possibility that mentors are located across the country. Having ready access to multiple mentors from different disciplines can be an ideal source of advice and guidance for a mentee on a complex research project such as the following: a phase 1 clinical trial with a fast-moving pace; a project that requires a mentee to have several research specialists and program staff with expertise in a diverse array of fields; or a project in which a basic scientist is now adding a translational research component to the research portfolio and needs to learn about regulatory and statistical issues not previously encountered.

▼ Peer mentoring

Peer mentoring involves mentoring by colleagues who are at a similar point in their career or are maybe a year or two ahead of the mentee. The peer mentoring model is less formal and less inhibiting than other mentoring models. Peers can provide important advice and guidance about negotiating in the academic world and about mentoring relationships, and this advice can be effective, but it is not sufficient as the only mentoring model. Nothing can replace having one or more senior investigators work with the junior investigator and help him or her move toward a successful career as an independent investigator.

▼ Distance mentoring

Mentoring via e-mail, supplemented by telephone calls and occasional visits, can be highly effective for mentees with mentors at different institutions. We encourage mentees to look outside their institution to find an external expert. This is especially true if a particular area of expertise is needed and is not represented within the institution. However, there are other reasons for seeking an external mentor, such as broadening networking possibilities and increasing contacts with others in the field. Distance mentoring can be a convenient way to work with a mentor or mentee. But as described in the section on effective communication, the caveat is that e-mail communication comes with an element of risk. If the message is not carefully written, recipients can misunderstand the message or its tone and react in a way that is not expected by the writer. If a relationship has already been established between mentor and mentee, this method of mentoring may be more effective.