Health Services Research & Development

Veterans Crisis Line Badge
Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

Distance Mentoring - Mentees

The CDA Enhancements Initiative aims to enrich the overall mentorship experience for our awardees, which may include supplemental mentorship by senior researchers who are primarily based at a distant location. Therefore, being prepared to handle the inherent challenges of distance mentoring will better ensure a successful mentoring relationship.

Before the first meeting :

  • Arrange a meeting time as soon your mentor is identified. This doesn't have to be the regular meeting time.
  • Try to establish a relationship via email by,
    • Exchanging pictures;
    • Sharing information (e.g. academic background, research interests, hobbies, etc.);
    • Using Myers-Briggs or a similar instrument to get to know your mentor more.
  • Set up an agenda beforehand before every meeting to ensure the meeting time will be used effectively.

During the first meeting, try to complete some of the suggested documentation below to set your expectations upfront.

  • Complete a Mentoring Agreement to define and clarify expectations and goals upfront.
  • Create a Statement of Confidentiality to clear define what can and cannot be shared outside of your mentoring meetings.
  • Use a First Meeting Checklist to make sure you cover all logistics, expectations and goals needed for a successful mentorship and have them written down to avoid confusion in the future.

Since your interaction with the mentor will mainly be over phone and email, there are some good practices that will ensure a smooth mentoring experience.

  • Listen actively and avoid distractions.
  • Consider how you convey your messages.
  • Summarize important points at the end of the meeting to make sure you understand what you've discussed with your mentor.

When communicating over email, be aware that

  • Email is best for:
    • Suggesting or requesting meetings with your mentor.
    • Scheduling meetings and verifying plans.
    • Posing non time-urgent questions to your mentor.
    • Maintaining a sense of contact when one or both parties are finding it difficult to schedule a mutual time.
  • E-mail is not appropriate for:
    • Exchanging sensitive information.
  • Following up with a summary of the meeting and follow-up between meetings will build a stronger bond between you and your mentor.
  • Arrange a face-to-face meeting whenever possible. For example, arrange a meeting at an academic conference that both you and your mentor will be attending. Another option is to come out to the informal social events hosted by the CDA Enhancements Initiative program at professional meetings.
  • Video chat solutions like Skype and Google Hangouts allow for a more personal connection.
  • Email each other to check in and share news. Share articles, resources, and ideas relevant to the relationship and work plan. A spontaneous e-mail can serve as a pleasant reminder that you are committed to this relationship and happy with the way it's going.