Mentorship in Medicine & in Life

Mentorship (C)


“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Listen to today’s post on the go or continue reading below …


Mentorship is a topic that has really jazzed me up lately.  In October, a female physician in one of the medical specialties approached me about how to seek out mentors to connect with. Our conversation incited a burning question for me without any clear answer. This topic was once raised again in the past couple of months in the context of physician health, specifically as to whether such a program existed to help find a mentor. Both having a mentor and being a mentor can prove to be extremely beneficial to both parties, so I can certainly see the appeal and desire to be involved on both sides.

What is mentoring?

The definition of mentoring I like the most comes from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists: “Mentoring is a relationship between two individuals based on a mutual desire for development towards career goals and objectives. The relationship is a non-reporting one and replaces none of the organizational structures in place.” A mentoring relationship involves a mentor (the one who provides mentoring) and a mentee (the one who is mentored by the mentor). In some cases, one mentor can exist for one or more mentees depending on the reason for the mentoring relationship. According to Dr. Ratnapalan, in his article Mentoring in Medicine, mentorship is based on consideration, camaraderie, commonality and confidentiality. These are all very important concepts for the relationship to flourish.

My experience as a mentee

When I think of my own experience, the first profound role model turned mentor that I had in medicine was during the first year of my family medicine residency. The physician with whom I worked with in sexual health truly fueled my interest in this area of public health that remains to this day. She not only emulated the characteristics of a physician I would want to be or want for myself, but also had a sense of balance in her work-life and home-life. Our relationship just naturally evolved in to one of a mentor and mentee. Although a role model would be a logical mentor, it is certainly not necessary for a mentoring relationship.

What are the benefits of a mentoring relationship?

Having a mentor to turn to for questions about your career goals, career expectations, work-life balance, or anything else life may throw your way is invaluable. Let’s face it – Google doesn’t have an answer for everything, especially when it comes to specific issues that require human interaction and understanding. In turn, being a mentor can be an extremely rewarding experience.

The following are some of the benefits of mentoring for both a mentor and a mentee:


  • improved leadership skills
  • professional development
  • personal development such as self-reflection
  • investing in the future generation
  • learning from your mentee
  • gain new perspectives
  • renewed appreciation for medicine/career
  • improved physician wellness


  • learning life & professional skills
  • professional development
  • personal development such as confidence
  • career coaching
  • guidance
  • sustained/renewed interest in medicine/career
  • goal setting
  • improved physician wellness

Where to go from here?

Fortunately, some excellent mentorship programs already exist in medical education. A few of these programs here in Canada include the following:

International Conference on Residency Education Mentorship Program

University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine Student Affairs Office Mentorship Program

Saskatchewan Medical Association Student-Physician Synergy Mentoring Program

Unfortunately, as for mentorship opportunities once in practice, the resources are scarce.

If you either know of a program or are involved in one, I would love to hear about it. I believe that with a clear vision and possibility of engagement, a wonderful opportunity awaits us all.

Next time, I will explore a bit more about the key factors in a mentoring relationship.


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