Responsibility of Mentors and Getting Started!

February 12, 2021

Louise Jones, PhD, MEd, Director of Research & Scholarly Activity

How do you prepare for mentoring?

The biggest factor with mentoring is that it takes time and mental effort. You shouldn’t commit to mentoring if you just don’t have the time or brain space to invest in the relationship. What some find more manageable, is if you can get together with faculty colleagues and structure a faculty mentoring team! When your specified time is up, you can then hand-off to your colleague.

The next step is identifying your mentor style. I always recommend using a very simple framework of appreciative advising. This framework is reinforced by positive psychology and works to support positive experiences for both the mentor and the mentee.

When I run mentoring workshops, I usually include training on several things.

Be learner-focused and develop listening (not solving) skills. What does that look like? Well, it means you don’t have to be ready to answer all questions, fill in awkward silences, or show off how much you know. Being a sounding board, allowing the mentee to talk themselves around to a self-determined solution, is one of the most powerful gifts a mentor has available to them.

Be vulnerable and transparent about some of your obstacles. Put your stature as “educator over resident” away and be on an equal footing. Even better, voluntarily hand over some of your positional power to the mentee and allow them to lead the conversation. Can you imagine what a confidence builder that would be?

Mentor responsibilities!

It’s a big responsibility, that has been established. So, how do you create a learning partnership?  Here are a few tips:

  1. The first thing….be aware of the principle elements of adult learning theory.
  2. Agree about meeting intervals, how you may be contacted, consistency, punctuality, and expectations.
  3. Think about what you are committed to providing (guidance in goal setting, champion role, accountability, a listening ear) and what you are not able to provide (medical or counseling services, specialist academic diagnostics, 24/7 access).
  4. Set expectations around what you need a mentee to do to prepare and use your joint sessions to their full potential. Always be on time, update the score data etc. before the session, provide interim updates, and commit to taking the sessions and tasks seriously.
  5. Explicitly model a positive professional attitude.
  6. Use the student provided data and any other analytics to help model evidence-based identification of gaps.
  7. Help mentee identify goals for learning – use diagnostic data and self-evaluation.

Check back here next week for information about the mentee’s responsibility! To learn more about setting up a mentor/mentee relationship, contact Louise Jones at To learn more about our residency programs, visit