Introduction to Mentorship

Original Editor - Angela Patterson

Top Contributors - Ewa Jaraczewska, Kim Jackson and Jess Bell  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Successful mentorship is a vital programme leading to success and satisfaction for mentors and mentees. Mentors serve as role models, and they guide the mentees' personal and professional development. However, formal mentoring programmes in healthcare are often lacking. This article will define mentorship and describe what makes the mentorship programme successful.

Definitions[edit | edit source]

Mentorship[edit | edit source]

Mentorship is the process of forming a relationship between one or more experienced persons (mentors) in an area of evidence-based practice within a clinical and/or academic setting, guiding one or more persons (mentees) in developing and reassessing skills and knowledge for their personal and professional development. [1]

Mentor[edit | edit source]

A mentor is a person with advanced experience and knowledge in clinical practice or education who advises and guides others to develop their skills and knowledge for personal and professional growth. A mentor is "an active partner in an ongoing relationship who helps a mentee to maximise their potential". [2]

Mentee[edit | edit source]

Mentee is a person who is receptive to developing new skills and knowledge in their education and/or clinical practice through collaborating with a mentor. [1]

Types of Mentorships[edit | edit source]

Mentorship can be completed in multiple formats.[3] In situations where the mentor and mentee are close, in-person mentoring may be the most beneficial. A mentee often seeks guidance and knowledge in areas without a local mentor with the expertise required to form a mentorship relationship.[4][1] Virtual mentorship can provide access to national and/or international mentors. Whether in-person or virtual, mentoring can happen individually, in groups, or as a team. Functional mentoring is another model of mentoring where the functional mentor guides the mentee for a specific project. Examples of the project include the development of a new course or the planning and implementing of new clinical services.[5]

Type of Mentorship Characteristic
Virtual or E-Mentoring Access nationally and internationally through the Internet and messaging platforms
Traditional Mentoring (Dyad model) One-on-one mentoring
Team Mentoring Two or more mentors working with two or more mentees with a mentor-to-mentee relationship no greater than one to five
Peer Mentoring Expert mentors to expert mentees. This type of mentoring is beneficial in areas with fewer resources[5]
Facilitated Peer Mentoring Model Peer cohorts are overseen by senior supervising mentor(s)[5]
Functional Mentoring The functional mentor guides the mentee in a specific project[5]

The Mentor[edit | edit source]

Mentors are experts in their knowledge and skills and can provide evidence-based practice guidance and advisement through collaborative relationships.

Mentors should possess the following skills and characteristics during the mentorship process:[1]

  • Accessible, responsive, timely, and consistent
  • Able to set agenda and follow through[6]
  • Accept criticism[6]
  • Effective professional communication skills, including active listening
  • Provide timely and constructive feedback
  • Able to share their knowledge and experiences practically
  • Foster critical thinking and reflection
  • Set aside personal bias and be non-judgmental
  • Positive attitude, respectful, inspiring, and motivational
  • Able to empower the mentee
  • Set realistic goals and source a variety of learning resources
  • Build mutual trust and maintain confidentiality.

The mentor must set aside circumstantial assumptions and consider the mentee's culture, work environment, and available resources. Advisement and guidance must be practical to what the mentee can achieve. The mentor must show interest in the mentorship relationship and the shared skills and knowledge. The mentor must adapt to the mentee's needs and be enthusiastic about teaching, knowing they may provide education and coaching.

The following is the description of a mentor. A mentor is:

M – motivational, E – effective, N – non-judgmental, T – trustworthy, O – open communicator, R – reflective=MENTOR

Signs of a bad mentor (“tormentor”):[7]

  • Misinterprets a mentee's potential
  • Does not maintain professional boundaries
  • Does not listen to a mentee's input
  • Behaves unethically
  • Does not accurately represent personal skills, knowledge, and competency
  • Does not set aside time for the mentorship relationship or follow up with the mentee
  • Communicates poorly, including criticisms

The Mentee[edit | edit source]

The mentees (protégé(e)s) can be rehabilitation practitioners, students and/or educators from any rehabilitation profession background seeking advanced skills, knowledge, and competency in their practice areas. [1] Mentees should seek a collaborative relationship to advance their personal and professional development to better serve their patients and/or students. Mentees should possess the following skills and characteristics through the mentoring process:

  • Accessible, responsive, timely, and consistent
  • Effective professional communication skills, including active listening
  • Takes the initiative and is prepared with ideas and questions
  • Actively engaged
  • Active and continuous learner
  • Open to constructive feedback
  • Sets aside personal bias and be non-judgmental
  • Positive attitude and  respectful
  • Sets realistic goals and follows up on learning resources
  • Sets aside adequate time in their schedule to act on any guidance and tasks suggested by the mentor.

The mentee must show interest in the mentor's advised skills, knowledge and competencies and the mentorship relationship.

Mentorship Relationship[edit | edit source]

A mentorship relationship aims to accelerate the personal and professional growth of rehabilitation practitioners, students and educators by building their general and specialised skills, knowledge, and competency in evidenced-based practice at national and international levels. Mentorship relationships can be intraprofessional or interprofessional.  

A successful mentor and mentee relationship should reflect the following characteristics:[8]

  • Both must engage in the relationship with a desire to participate
  • Collaborate on mutual goals
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Be mutually respectful of each other
  • Be honest and open
  • Both are accountable for the success of the mentorship
  • Identify and support each other’s strengths
  • Agree upon a communication schedule that is feasible for both

Phases of the Mentorship Relationship[edit | edit source]

Phase 1[edit | edit source]

The mentorship relationship begins with the mentor and mentee(s) personally reflecting on their preparedness to collaborate. [9]Next, both the mentor and mentee(s) ask themselves if they are ready to commit to the relationship's participatory requirements and whether they have the time and energy to commit to the relationship. Not being 100% committed to the relationship may lead to mistrust of mentorship and disinterest in future engagement. A successful mentorship relationship matches the mentor and the mentee(s) for the entire mentoring period.

Phase 2[edit | edit source]

In this phase, the mentor and mentee(s) get to know each other and their areas of clinical practice or education, discuss the structure of the mentoring environment and set the goals and timeframe. Points of discussion are as follows: [9]

  • Introductions, including backgrounds and experiences
  • Clarify the mentee’s scope of practice, environment, and available resources
  • Establish goals
  • Discuss expectations of feedback
  • Set the timeframe and mentor/mentee availability

Phase 3[edit | edit source]

This phase allows the mentee(s) to apply the guidance provided by the mentor and their new knowledge and skills to their practice. [9] The mentee(s) is working on gaining confidence and competence to achieve their goals. The mentor provides constructive feedback and continued guidance to challenge the mentee’s further acquisition of knowledge and skills. Finally, the mentee(s) reflects on their advancements.

The mentorship relationship will follow a similar progression in group mentoring (one mentor to one or more mentees). The mentees shall possess the same characteristics with an additional focus on respecting fellow group members.

Providing Effective Feedback[edit | edit source]

The mentor and mentee(s) provide feedback in a mentorship relationship.[9] Good feedback is constructive and non-threatening, and the recipient is open and receptive to receiving the feedback. Effective feedback is necessary for advancing learning. Conversely, ineffective feedback can harm the relationship and delay goal attainment.

Examples of effective feedback:

  • Mentor – supportive, clear, sensitive, specific, timely, accepting, actively engaged, authentic
  • Mentee – accepting, actively engaged, open, reflective, respectful, responsive

Examples of ineffective feedback:

  • Mentor – attacking, judgmental, superficial, untimely, insensitive, closed, defensive
  • Mentee – attacking, closed, passive, defensive, lack of respect

Challenges in Mentoring Relationships[edit | edit source]

It is unrealistic to believe all mentorship relationships will be without difficulties. [10] If the collaboration is not benefitting the mentor and mentee, a review of expectations and negative influences may find one or more of the following factors.

  • Mentor-mentee mismatch due to conflicts in values, mismatched personalities, differences in collaborative styles
  • Neglect by the mentor in meeting the needs of the mentee(s)
  • Lack of mentor expertise
  • Negative attitude regarding collaboration and personal bias/pessimism
  • Unrealistic expectations[11]
  • Overdependency on the mentor[11]
  • Failure to recognise and address the mentee(s) goals, personal values, and needs[11]

Exercise to Complete[edit | edit source]

If you have been part of a mentoring relationship, answer the following questions:

  1. What characteristics of the relationship were most important to you?
  2. What characteristics of the relationship were not present but would have improved the effectiveness of the relationship?

If you have not been part of a mentoring relationship, answer what characteristics would be the most important to you when considering mentorship.

Ethical Considerations[edit | edit source]

Mentoring plays a crucial role in training healthcare professionals, and any and all ethical issues arising from the mentor and the mentee relationship must be assessed and supported. [1][12]

  • Confidentiality – mentors and mentees must keep information shared in all forms of communication confidential in alignment with good professional practice.
  • Conflict of interest – any conflicts of interest should be acknowledged.
  • Intellectual property – the mentor and mentee may share examples of their work. One does not have the right to use the other’s intellectual property without acknowledging the source of the information.
  • Power – an imbalance in the relationship may occur. One does not have the right to bully, exploit, or harass the other.
  • Unrealistic expectations – the mentoring relationship must avoid false expectations such as not showing up for meetings, not responding to messages promptly, not being accessible, and not completing agreed-upon tasks.
  • Access - mentors and mentees must provide access for all individuals, regardless of their personal or professional backgrounds, and support diverse goals.

Cultural Considerations[edit | edit source]

Mentorship relationships are affected by the cultural perspectives of the mentor and mentee. [13] [14] Expectations of the mentorship relationship require the mentor and mentee to share their cultural perspectives. Cultural perspectives include but are not limited to gender, age, religious background, ethnicity, resources, and worldview. Thriving mentorship relationships require the consideration of the following perspectives to be realistic.

  • Building trust in the mentorship relationship may take more time with intercultural participants.
  • Communicating across cultures increases the possibility of miscommunication.
  • Misunderstandings, including perceptions of ethics, can occur.
  • Learning about cultural expectations early in the mentorship relationship may reduce misconceptions.
  • Mentors that account for mentee cultural expectations are more effective.
  • Mentees may instinctively accept the mentor’s suggestions to maintain coherence in the relationship and avoid conflict.
  • In a group mentorship relationship, one-on-one feedback between the mentor and a mentee is sometimes needed as a mentee may feel discredited if feedback is provided among peers.

Mentorship Outcomes[edit | edit source]

A mentoring programme's objectives may be different for each programme. In general, there are two types of objectives:

  1. The objectives must meet specific needs. Examples include:[5]
    1. Project completion
    2. Developing liaisons with local or national organisations
  2. The global objectives:
    1. Professional or career development
    2. Academic/Clinical success
    3. Networking
    4. Retention/Programme Participation

The mentorship programme should: [15][16]

  • Build and support national and international collaborative relationships among rehabilitation professionals.
  • Offer personal and professional development of the mentee leading to improved quality of rehabilitation services and education globally.
  • Increase access to evidence-based practice resources to support skills, knowledge, and competency translation from a global perspective.
  • Build institutional capacity.
  • Provide objective guidance and feedback based on expert knowledge to attain goals.
  • Build and expand personal networks of specialists within rehabilitation.

The Benefits of Mentoring[edit | edit source]

The mentoring process should mutually benefit both mentors and mentee(s) through their personal growth, career development, personal enrichment, and professional stimulation.

Benefits for the Mentor[edit | edit source]

The benefits for the mentor include [17][18]

  • Feelings of empowerment through helping others
  • Improved communication skills in listening and providing feedback
  • Increased engagement in reflective practices
  • Enhance professional growth and satisfaction
  • Feelings of contribution to broader rehabilitation practices
  • Improved guidance and teaching skills
  • Professional development credits as applicable to profession and regulation

Benefits for the Mentee[edit | edit source]

The following are the benefits for the mentee: [17][18]

  • Improved clinical decision-making skills
  • Increased professional identity and professionalism
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Increased engagement in reflective practices
  • Improved job satisfaction
  • Sense of validation
  • Access to evidence-based practice resources

Resources[edit | edit source]

  1. Lewellen-Williams C, Johnson VA, Deloney LA, Thomas BR, Goyol A, Henry-Tillman R. The POD: a new model for mentoring underrepresented minority faculty. Acad Med. 2006 Mar;81(3):275-9.
  2. Jackson VA, Palepu A, Szalacha L, Caswell C, Carr PL, Inui T. "Having the right chemistry": a qualitative study of mentoring in academic medicine. Acad Med. 2003 Mar;78(3):328-34.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Burgess A, van Diggele C, Mellis C. Mentorship in the health professions: a review. Clin Teach. 2018 Jun;15(3):197-202.
  2. Frei E, Stamm M, Buddeberg-Fischer B. Mentoring programs for medical students--a review of the PubMed literature 2000-2008. BMC Med Educ. 2010 Apr 30;10:32.
  3. Mullen CA, Klimaitis CC. Defining mentoring: a literature review of issues, types, and applications. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2021 Jan;1483(1):19-35.
  4. Henry-Noel N, Bishop M, Gwede CK, Petkova E, Szumacher E. Mentorship in Medicine and Other Health Professions. J Cancer Educ. 2019 Aug;34(4):629-637.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Kashiwagi DT, Varkey P, Cook DA. Mentoring programs for physicians in academic medicine: a systematic review. Academic Medicine. 2013 Jul 1;88(7):1029-37.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Rose GL, Rukstalis MR, Schuckit MA. Informal mentoring between faculty and medical students. Acad Med. 2005 Apr;80(4):344-8.
  7. Mentoring Handbook. Second Edition. The American Heart Association 2008. Available from [last access 17.04.2023]
  8. Straus SE, Johnson MO, Marquez C, Feldman MD. Characteristics of successful and failed mentoring relationships: a qualitative study across two academic health centres. Acad Med. 2013 Jan;88(1):82-9.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Sinclair PM, Pich J, Hennessy M, Wooding J, Williams J, Young S and Schoch M. Mentorship in the health disciplines. Renal Society of Australasia Journal 2015; 11(1): 41-46.
  10. Canadian Coalition for global health research. (2007). Module Two: Competency in Mentoring. Available from [last access 17.04.2023]
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Pololi L, Knight S. Mentoring faculty in academic medicine. A new paradigm? J Gen Intern Med. 2005 Sep;20(9):866-70.
  12. Kow CS, Teo YH, Teo YN, Chua KZ, Quah EL, Kamal NH, Tan LH, Cheong CW, Ong YT, Tay KT, Chiam M. A systematic scoping review of ethical issues in mentoring in medical schools. BMC Medical Education. 2020 Dec;20(1):1-0.
  13. Osula B, Irvin SM.Cultural Awareness in Intercultural Mentoring: A Model for Enhancing Mentoring Relationships. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 2009; 5(1): 37-50.
  14. Prasad S, Sopdie E, Meya D, Kalbarczyk A, Garcia PJ. Conceptual Framework of Mentoring in Low- and Middle-Income Countries to Advance Global Health. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2019 Jan;100(1_Suppl):9-14.
  15. Hansoti B, Kalbarczyk A, Hosseinipour MC, Prabhakaran D, Tucker JD, Nachega J, Wallis L, Stiles JK, Wynn A, Morroni C. Global Health Mentoring Toolkits: A Scoping Review Relevant for Low- and Middle-Income Country Institutions. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2019 Jan;100(1_Suppl):48-53.
  16. Doyle NW, Gafni Lachter L, Jacobs K. Scoping review of mentoring research in the occupational therapy literature, 2002-2018. Aust Occup Ther J. 2019 Oct;66(5):541-551.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Yap HW, Chua J, Toh YP, Choi HJ, Mattar S, Kanesvaran R, Krishna LKR. Thematic review of mentoring in occupational therapy and physiotherapy between 2000 and 2015, sitting occupational therapy and physiotherapy in a holistic palliative medicine multidisciplinary mentoring program. J Palliat Care Pain Manage, 2017; 2(1):1-10.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Henry-Noel N, Bishop M, Gwede CK, Petkova E, Szumacher E. Mentorship in Medicine and Other Health Professions. J Cancer Educ. 2019 Aug;34(4):629-637.