Mentorship plays a significant role in helping women physicians to make career choices. In addition, exposure to rewarding mentoring experiences may help to mitigate some of the negative influences that women in medicine face. Mentors with specific skill sets and experience can provide advice, guidance and support. Women physicians in academic medicine describe mentorship as a key element to professional development. In fact, lack of meaningful mentorship has been seen as a barrier to career advancement and career satisfaction for female physicians in academic settings.
Mentorship is crucial at every stage in professional development, and yet it may be more difficult to find after training, outside of an academic center. The paucity of reports of mentorship programs outside of academic medicine is concerning, given the research that highlights the important influence of mentorship on personal development, career choice, and faculty retention. Women may turn to peer mentorship as way to find collegial support but this may not provide the necessary experiences for career sponsorship or advancement. (See Appendix A for additional resources)
Pearls for Mentors and Mentees
Adapted from Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Faculty Development & Diversity Mentoring Toolkit
- Structure the expectations. Optimal mentoring relationships are highly relational. Both the mentee and mentor need to work together to establish and communicate expectations at the outset and at regular intervals.
- Build the frame of the mentoring relationship. Establish the practical details such as frequency, time, and format of meetings. Establish the agenda including general advice vs. specific technical advice vs. sponsorship fro career advancement.
- Set boundaries on the mentoring relationship. Establish timelines and parameters for meeting goals.
- Support self-awareness, confidence and independence. Discuss timelines for independent research, authorship, etc.
- Plan to evaluate the relationship. Set up the parameters to speak frankly with one another about the fit.
- If you identify that a mentoring relationship is not effective, be prepared to act.
- Consider adopting a formal mentoring agreement to help structure these elements.
AACAP Mentoring Resources