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Mentoring July 2011. Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH Center for AIDS & STD Seattle STD/HIV Prevention Training Center University of Washington Survival Skills for the Research Years. Discussion. Definitions What is a mentor? What isn’t? Goals of the relationship Responsibilities

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Mentoring July 2011

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Mentoring july 2011

MentoringJuly 2011

Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH

Center for AIDS & STD

Seattle STD/HIV Prevention Training Center

University of Washington

Survival Skills for the Research Years



  • Definitions

    • What is a mentor? What isn’t?

  • Goals of the relationship

  • Responsibilities

    • At minimum, and beyond (Nature June 2007)

  • Choices

    • How should you choose a mentor?

    • What does a mentor look for in candidates?



  • Homer: “a wise and trusted counselor”

  • Responsible for intellectual, professional, and personal development

  • An advisor may or may not be a mentor

  • You may have more than one mentor

    • Especially important in fields with inter-disciplinary bent

    • Increasingly important in tight funding era

Goal help trainees mature to independence

Goal: Help Trainees Mature to Independence



Goal help trainees mature to independence1

Goal: Help Trainees Mature to Independence

  • Scientific

    • Become knowledgeable about the field—read the literature

    • Think critically

      • Identify and develop good questions

      • Critically evaluate data and approaches

      • Become confident enough to argue with me

    • Be creative: head in clouds, feet on ground

    • Focus: be able to go from a wild idea to test that idea; develop hypotheses, perform experiments, and get funding to do it

Goal help trainees mature to independence2

Goal: Help Trainees Mature to Independence

  • Personal

    • Become confident based on self-recognition of their own excellence

    • Have a clear ethical framework for life and for research

    • Recognize that there is life beyond work

Responsibilities of the mentor

Responsibilities of the Mentor

  • Be available

    • Regular contact: check-in, review

      • Project status

      • Progress toward career plan

    • Skill development: thinking process, practice talks, review writing

    • May need to be flexible as to time/place!

  • Provide opportunities, networking

    • Requires balancing opportunism with focus

    • Promote visibility, responsibly and realistically

    • Anticipate meetings, funding announcements

  • Be patient

What makes a great mentor

What Makes a Great Mentor?

  • A commitment to mentor for life

  • Personal characteristics

    • Enthusiasm: infectious, sustaining

    • Sensitivity: especially when things inevitably go wrong

      • Be attentive to underlying concerns; compassion

    • Appreciate individual differences

      • Not all take the same path or want the same goal

What makes a great mentor1

What Makes a Great Mentor?

  • Personal characteristics

    • Respect: no cheap labor

    • Unselfishness: give credit when due

    • Supporting, inspiring those beyond one’s own team; building communities

  • Teaching & communication

    • Develop skills, which generally don’t come naturally

What makes a great mentor2

What Makes a Great Mentor?

  • Availability: the open door is KEY

  • Inspiration, optimism: big picture view

  • Balance direction & self-direction: micromanagement vs. “free-range” fellow

What makes a great mentor3

What Makes a Great Mentor?

  • Question and listen

  • Be widely read & receptive to new ideas

  • Ensure payoff in at least one big project!

  • Encourage life outside work

  • Celebrate success

Fredricks lab enjoying the fruits of anaerobic metabolism, 2009

Responsibilities of the trainee

Responsibilities of the Trainee

  • Set goals

  • Take initiative

  • Be committed

    • Available

    • Prepared

    • Persistent

    • Consistent

    • Honest

  • Cultivate feedback, and use it

    • Pay attention to writing critiques: style, content, jargon use

    • Model slides after those you find clear, appealing

Mentoring july 2011

“There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous, and those that are liars.”

Mark Twain

Mentoring july 2011


  • I really really like to have lots of long sentences on my slides because it makes it more fun to read while I’m standing on the stage and I also don’t have to think.

  • It takes less time to make the slides if I put lots of words on one slide. That way I don’t have to push the button so often while I’m giving my talk.

  • Besides, if I put a lot of words on the slide then the font doesn’t have to be so big and it won’t keep people awake.

  • I think it is most fun to emphasize certain text by using a different font such as italics or by underlining. Looking at many slides with the same font is really really boring.

Choice what should you consider

Choice: What Should You Consider?

  • Area of interest

    • Look at CV, publications

  • Research reputation

  • Grant support

  • Team

  • Mentoring reputation

    • Talk to former and current trainees

    • Where are they now?

  • Time commitment & availability

  • Lifestyle

Choice what do i consider

Choice: What Do I Consider?

  • Student potential

    • Enthusiasm: Are they alert? Will they be passionate about an area I care about?

    • Inquisitiveness: Do they ask questions?

    • Preparation: Do they have an idea of what I do? Have they read any papers from our group? Has this provoked ideas?

    • Solid academic background

    • Work ethic

  • My issues

    • Space, money and time to mentor well

    • Fit with the team



  • Find a mentor whom you respect and whose research interests excite you

  • Find a way to really like what you do, and to communicate that

  • Be receptive to all feedback,and incorporate it going forward

  • Work hard, play hard, and make a contribution to your field!



  • Ned Hook, UAB

  • Sheila Lukehart, UW



  • Nature’s Guide for Mentors. Nature 2007;447:791-7

  • National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine. Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1997

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