According to Webster’s dictionary, a mentor is a “trusted counselor or guide.” To increase your chances of success in academic medicine, you will need one or more mentors. Most academic physicians have several mentors since it is difficult to get all the guidance you need from one person. You may want a clinical mentor, an educational mentor, a research mentor, a life mentor, etc. There is ample research showing that, with respect to mentoring, more is better.
Having a mentor is an independent predictor of career success. Benefits of having a mentor are well proven and include clinical practice and practice management support, higher career satisfaction, increased confidence, and better success with academic promotions, publications, and grant acquisitions (Sambunjak, 2006).
Given the significant professional and personal benefits of good mentoring, women physicians should take the initiative early in their careers to identify multiple mentors. Qualities that you should look for in an individual mentor include experience, clout, availability, respect for you, an interest in your career, responsiveness, and trustworthiness. Always discuss goals and expectations with potential mentors before committing to the relationship.