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Why Mentoring Matters

'How am I to get in?' asked Alice again, in a louder tone. 'Are you to get in at all?' said the Footman. 'That's the first question, you know.'

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll


Why does mentoring matter?

Mentoring is the key for developing and sustaining a satisfying professional career. Mentoring enables each of us to grow, learn, transform, and accomplish goals in education or in basic, clinical, and translational research. Whether you are a senior educator or world-renowned investigator or you are in the early stages of your professional training—whether you are the mentor or the mentee—mentoring helps build a dynamic community while ensuring the success of each individual as he or she achieves personal and professional career goals.

What are the benefits of mentoring?

For the mentee:

In today's complex and often highly competitive world of academic medicine, having a mentor can mean the difference between success and failure. Whether seeking advice on how to ask the right research question, how to best design a new experiment, how to team-teach a course, or how to find all the needed resources, mentoring can help to ensure a successful outcome. By serving in the role of a guide, coach, or ally, a mentor can answer questions as they arise for the mentee and thereby ensure steady progress and completion of project milestones. By serving in the role of an advocate, a mentor can help a mentee navigate the terrain of academia and move forward professionally. By providing knowledgeable and strategic advice, a mentor can serve to empower a junior faculty member, postdoc, or fellow to pursue an innovative opportunity. The interest and the support of a mentor often provide the mentee with confidence to undertake a new and exciting challenge.

For the mentor:

Mentoring provides the mentor with numerous benefits, including enhancement of his or her own personal and professional knowledge while teaching and learning from the mentee. By providing guidance, support, advice, strategic feedback, and other insights to a mentee, the mentor can learn and enhance leadership skills. Mentees often bring a fresh perspective to a difficult problem, and serving as a mentor can provide a renewed sense of purpose in meeting the challenges of leading an educational endeavor or a research program. While working with a mentee, the mentor also has the opportunity to gain a new talented colleague—one with whom the mentor may collaborate for years to come. Most of all, a mentor is provided with an important sense of satisfaction in contributing to a legacy of developing the next generation of creative faculty.