As we implement our departmental mentoring committees for new recruits, it may be useful to recognize that a formalization of the mentoring process has been adopted by many leading academic institutions, including Western. At the institutional level, mentoring is understood to be a constructive relationship between a mentee and mentor(s). The primary intention of this working relationship is that mentor(s) are able to support, provide guidance and advocate for a mentee as they construct their academic identity. The goal is personal fulfillment, academic success, and promotion. This process is of course unique to mentee’s academic field, ambitions and goals.
At a Department level, the construction of your academic identity will be achieved primarily through mentorship meetings. Meetings, which will occur at least twice yearly, will provide the environment where goals, projects and challenges can be discussed. Discussion topics might include but are not limited to the achievement of a balance between academic and clinical time, and work and social life; furthering one’s academic identity with publications, research grants and administrative opportunities; and connecting the mentee to a network of key-collaborative colleagues. The desired result of the mentoring process, at both the institutional and Department level, is to build a relationship that fosters opportunities for academic advancement and promotion, and showcases the invaluable experience of the mentor(s) in order to constructively guide the mentee in navigating the arduous road to promotion.
Whereas this is very much a bi-directional relationship, the mentor can often provide significant advice, expertise, feedback and advocacy to and for the mentee. However, a large part of success will depend on the contributions of the mentee. We have worked hard to develop resources. We feel that should these be utilized, there will be an improved probability of success. Within the Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, it is the responsibility of the mentee to book two structured meetings per year with their mentoring committee. It would be an expectation that completion and circulation of the Individual Development Plan (IDP) with supporting information is done prior to the actual meeting. Such pre-planning will improve the efficiency and productivity of a mentoring committee meeting. Of course the mentoring process can occur beyond these 2 required meetings. There may be other activities/meeting/discussion that can foster this relationship.
The IDP, which includes goal summaries, time management, and exercises for reflection and self-assessment by the mentee, is a key discussion piece for the mentoring committee meetings. Having the IDP completed in detail will aid the mentors in providing informed and personalized feedback.
In conclusion, the mentoring process has been demonstrated to be incredibly rewarding to both mentors and mentees on a number of levels. We are asking that the mentees take ownership of this opportunity as they progress to their academic and professional goals. To be proactive with the mentoring process is essentially to be proactive in the advancement of your academic career, and the achievement of promotion.
Dr. Kevin Armstrong
Department of Anesthesia & Perioperative Medicine