Establishing a strong and lasting mentor/mentee relationship


III. Ending and/or redefining the relationship

Case continued

You are now a senior resident who’s published multiple articles in the past year, and have completed an anticoagulation project for inpatients with pulmonary emboli. You look back on your experience and what stands out is the extent of your gratitude and appreciation for your incredible mentor. Not only do you feel that your mentor has guided you in your career and with your scholarship, but you feel that he or she has shaped your character and talent set. At this point your mentor is both a teacher and guide, but now also a friend. While you feel there is always more that you can learn from her, you are ready to explore new interests. How do you effectively end or redefine this relationship?

Stage 5: Redefining your mentoring relationship

First, go back to the expectations or contract established early in the relationship. The check-in is a key time in the relationship to reevaluate goals and priorities. At this point you may decide to amicably end the relationship or project, or move on to a new project with a change in your role. For example, the quality improvement project may change to research, or you as the mentee have a change in focus (e.g., change in specialty or scholarly focus).

In summary, the interaction between you and your mentor should be a relationship. And the keys to a great relationship are:

1. Establish clear expectations from the beginning. This clarifies the relationship and helps the mentee and mentor to become more successful.

2. Maintain clear and open communication throughout the relationship.3. Define your goals and discuss them with your mentor early. (Have we mentioned the importance of goals enough?) After all, your goal is the reason you started pursuing this relationship in the first place.

In clinical training having guidance can greatly enhance your experience and direct your future career in unexpected ways. We hope that using these tools will guide you towards forging a strong mentor/mentee relationship.

Dr. Zimmerberg-Helms is a resident physician at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Dr. Rendon is an attending hospitalist at the University of New Mexico.


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