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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

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 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


  • 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