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Mentoring Is a Frame of Mind

Posted on March 1, 2006

John B. Reid (bio) talks about the challenges of being a mentor.

 

But I think that across the board, you have to be OK with where you are professionally so that you don't need the credit that your mentee is getting. You need to really feel positive about not only giving them, but pushing them into, first authorship, to actually planning for when they're going to write the R01 and be the PI and when you want to be their co-I. In some ways in universities it's harder to do that because you have such a hierarchal system from instructor, assistant, associate, to full professor, but it's very difficult. It's a huge challenge I think both to me and to friends of mine who are my age, who I also think are good mentors, because when you get old enough to be able to mentor, you also start to get the anxieties of not being a promising young person anymore.

So all of a sudden you start to get off on what the people you work with are doing and if you can really enjoy that without feeling too threatened by it, then I think that's a good thing. But I think that it's a frame of mind. I don't think a mentor is like a noun; it's more like a continuous verb.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher in June 2005.

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