The characteristics of outstanding mentors

In Academia it’s common knowledge that a critical component of academic success in health sciences is promoted by a mentor. A lot of health science institutions have invested in formal mentoring programs for faculty and trainees.

But what makes a mentor and outstanding mentor from the perspective of a mentee. What are the key characteristics of these outstanding mentors?

From qualitative research of the important qualities of outstanding mentors as described by their mentees’ letters of nomination for a prestigious lifetime achievement award inmentorship, the key characteristics are:

  • Admirable characteristics of mentors included descriptions of outgoing and interactive personalities, kindness, and justness as in ethical fair and honest
  • It’s important how they guide their mentees’ career. Often it’s appreciated if the mentors guides them in a purposeful but unobtrusive way and most of all with vision.

    “[He] continues to accurately assess my skills, knowledge, and attitudes, and to challenge me to seek higher personal achievement than I would on my own. So, [he] is an outstanding mentor because he saw what I could become.”

  • Strong time commitment, availability of proper duration and quality and flexible in frequency of meetings. Mentees appreciate frequent and regular contact with their mentors.
  • Good mentors are aware of the fact that a key aspect of being successful is to strive for a balance between one’s personal and professional life. Mentors offer support to mentees during periods of stress or personal struggle
  • Through role modeling and direct teaching mentors often create new mentors.

These are qualities as mentioned by their mentees, it would improve future directions if these qualities were also studied at different institutions.
Cho, Christine S., Ramanan, Radhika, A., & Feldman, Mitchell, D. (2010). Defining the Ideal Qualities of Mentorship: A Qualitative
Analysis of the Characteristics of Outstanding Mentors The American Journal od Medicine DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2010.12.007