skip to page content
Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

Mentoring Journey

Mentoring Roles

There are different types of mentoring roles. Learn about each of the roles and how they are different from each other.

Research Mentor

  • Responsible for helping the mentee to develop into an independent researcher.
  • Must have scholarly expertise in mentee's area of research.


  • Work with both mentee and research mentor.
  • Provide specialized expertise such as methodological techniques.
  • Help the mentee to learn a new technique or skill.


  • Provide guidance on specific issues on an as-needed basis.

Career Mentor

  • Support the overall career goals of a mentee.

Choosing the right mentor

Choosing the right mentor is very important and you should think about the following in addition to their research interests and strengths.

  • Think about personal fit,
    • How can a particular mentor help you succeed in different areas?
    • Are there any perceived communication challenges such as different time zones and how are you going to address that?
    • Are you going to be bothered by different preferences? For example, if you value accessibility, would it be a good idea to choose a mentor with a national leadership role, several local appointments and multiple university roles?
    • Is a particular mentor someone with whom you feel you can have a good working relationship?


Getting Started

Get to know your mentor by sharing information (e.g. academic background, research interests, hobbies, etc.).

Consider completing a Mentoring Agreement to define expectations and goals upfront.

  • Consider logistics such as:
    • Meeting time.
    • Frequency of meetings.
    • Duration of meetings.
    • Preferred method of communication.
  • When setting goals :
    • Have a clear idea of where you want to grow.
    • Assess your situation, attributes, skills and knowledge.
    • Define goals in areas of:
      • Research.
      • Self-development.
      • Professional networking.
      • Work/life balance.
      • Teaching.
      • Clinical care.
      • Service.
  • Write down goals to state clear and objective standards.

Create a Statement of Confidentiality to explicitly define what can and cannot be shared outside of the mentoring relationship.

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.


Growing the Relationship

Growing the Relationship is the longest phase of the mentorship. Mentor and mentee should meet regularly, review and adjust goals, and monitor progress.

Discuss actionable steps with your mentor and continue to see if you have met your objectives or if any strategies need to be redefined or adapted.

Use the questions below to appraise your objectives:


  • Have you identified specific objectives for the relationship?
  • Are your objectives definite and precise?


  • Are your objectives quantifiable in nature?
  • Have you decided how to measure success?

Work Plan

  • Do you have an action plan to achieve your objectives?
  • Have you considered the outcome of achieving your objectives?

Reality Check

  • Are your objectives realistic given the circumstances?
  • Have you determined a completion date?
  • Is your timeline realistic?
  • Will you need additional resources or tools to be successful?

The Mentor's Role

  • Will your objectives require your mentor to provide you something other than guidance?
  • How can your mentor be most helpful to you?

It's critical to address any problems (e.g., communication ) in the relationship in a timely manner.

Evaluating the Relationship's Success

  • Have a written evaluation to clearly assess your progress and continue to work on your goals or redefine or adapt your strategies if they're not working.

Moving Forward

  • Although the mentorship relationship might be ended officially, mentor and mentee are encouraged to continue to collaborate on research, engage in an informal mentoring relationship, or become friends and colleagues.


Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.