Stop for just a moment, and I want you to think about the people you see as the biggest mentors in your life. Who are they? What do they do? How did you meet them? How often are you in touch with them?
Now, I want you to think about how many times you’ve come across mentorship programs or opportunities to sign up for a mentor. Do you have any mentors that come from opportunities like these?
I want to challenge the general organizational convention of a mentorship program! Yes, there is some data, saying that some of them work, but I assert that some of the most meaningful mentorship relationships are not those that are set up for us, but rather ones that we establish ourselves. So the next time you come across a mentorship program, are thinking about designing a mentorship curriculum, or are seeking a mentor yourself, think about these things:
· Success is dependent on the goal of the partnership
o The goal of that partnership is determined only by the partners, not externally
o Goal(s) may be explicit or implicit
· Success is not measured in number of communications, frequency of communication, or weightiness of the topics discussed
o To be valuable communication doesn’t have to be daily/weekly/monthly
o Have a question on an occasional basis… have a mentor who is there to answer, this can be one of the most valuable partnerships!
o Value is not necessarily in the topics discussed, more in the discussion itself
o Face-to-face is great, but it’s definitely not necessary
· Once is ok. Short and sweet can still be powerful.
o You can have mentors that stick with you for a lifetime, but only needing or meeting a mentor once can still have a huge impact.
o One question and one answer – still mentorship
· A partnership will fail if it is forced, if there is no common ground, or the expectations are too high!
o You may have the best mentorship relationship in the world but if the demands and expectations are too high, then it is bound to trip up.
o Just like you can’t force to people into an intimate relationship, if there isn’t a common ground or geniality, your partnership won’t work!
One might argue, clinical instructors are mentors that we don’t establish ourselves. I would beg to differ though. While yes, we don’t establish the initial relationship during our clinical rotation ourselves, the lasting impact that these people have on our lives and profession isn’t just in the eight weeks you work with them. Your lasting mentorship relationship with them still is guided by the list above.
You may see other criteria or guiding principles to mentorship, and please share them if you do. But to get you thinking… here’s a start!