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Building Mentoring Relationships: How to improve yourself through mentoring

Mentoring relationships succeed when both the mentor and mentee take an active role in developing the relationship.  Here are a few tips on how to get the most out your mentoring relationship.

1.  Clarify your goals for mentoring.  Why do you want a mentor?  Define what type of help you are looking for in a mentor.  Are you looking to network with someone with similar interest, learn a new skill from someone with a different skill set or navigate a career decision by learning from someone who has been there before you?

2. Determine how to find a specific mentor that matches your particular goal.  Once you have clarified your goal for entering into a mentoring relationship, examine your personal network to identify potential mentors for reaching your particular goal.  If the person doesn’t exists in your personal network, reach out to your network and other organizations and ask for them to introduce you to individuals to mentor you.  As a member of  the American Medical Women’s Association, we are here to help you find a mentor at any time.  Simply sign up through our member database or email

3.  Establish goals for the relationship.  Once you find a mentor have a discussion about the goals of the relationship.  Discuss whether or not the mentor is comfortable helping you achieve those goals and if there are certain things you may need to find in additional mentors.  Create a Development Plan with your mentor which identifies three key goals you would like to work on during your time together.

4. Find more than one mentor.  As in any type of relationship, it is unusual for one person to be able to provide everything you need.  Seek out additional mentors and build a support group of individuals that can advise you in a variety of different situations.  Also consider peer mentors and individuals navigating the same life decisions you are at the same time.

5.  Establish communication methods and frequency of contact.  Determine which method of communication works best for both of you.  Do you prefer email, phone or face to face mentoring?

6. Manage expectations.  Be realistic about what you expect to receive from your mentoring relationship.  Carefully decipher when you would like to receive advice from an outside source and when you need to personally make decisions on your own.

7.  Be respectful.  Mentoring takes time.  Be respectful of your mentor’s time and the other priorities in their life.  Do not overburden your mentor by demanding too much of their time or contacts.

8.  Do your part.  Keep your appointments.  Show up on time.   Follow through on leads and contacts they have provided to you.

9.  Express your gratitude.  Express regularly you value and appreciate your mentor’s guidance.  Within AMWA, you can nominate your mentor for an Exceptional Mentor Award to express how much you appreciate their help.  For AMWA Residents, we have the Charlotte Macguire Mentor Award.  Be sure the relationship is mutually beneficial and think of ways in which you can give back to your mentor.

10.  Explore a variety of mentoring options.  Whether it be discussing topics outside of your previously defined goals or talking about your past experiences, future plans, or skill development exploring a variety of mentoring options will continuously supply you with opportunities for growth.  Attend meetings, conferences, shadow, role-play difficult situations, or exchange and discuss written materials including your resume or articles you have written.

11.  Re-evaluate your goals at scheduled intervals.  Once you have clarified your goals for a specific time period…1 week, 1month, 1 year, 5 years also schedule time to re-evaluate and adjust those goals.  Over time your desires may change and you will need to schedule time to re-adjust your efforts and find additional mentors.

Call to Action:  Do you have multiple mentors to help you navigate difficult life decisions?

If not, think about how a mentor could help you advance your career and contact us at or sign up through our membership database.

Already have an exceptional mentor?

Nominate her for an Exceptional Mentor Award.  The American Medical Women’s Association honors women who take time out of their busy schedules to contribute to the advancement of women in medicine.  For AMWA Residents, we have the Charlotte Macguire Mentor Award.


Win $150 for your next networking and mentoring event

The American Medical Women’s Association provides financial support to local AMWA branches for the mentoring and networking of women in medicine.  Read the contest rules and enter to win!

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AMWA Admin

The American Medical Women's Association is an organization which functions at the local, national, and international level to advance women in medicine and improve women's health. We achieve this by providing and developing leadership, advocacy, education, expertise, mentoring, and strategic alliances.

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