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NP & PA Student Blog

Finding a Professional Mentor

Published December 27, 2013 2:22 PM by Marjorie Shanks
Having the right mentor can be a valuable asset for healthcare students. But selecting the right mentor takes skill and time. Mentors are never more important to an aspiring professional than today in the healthcare field where the playing field is shifting. A senior advisor at your side can be an invaluable asset, so here's how to go about finding the right mentor.

When to find a mentor:

  • The best time to search for a mentor is when you don't need one. That means ahead of time. There's no time like the present. So just like studying for exams, procrastination is not the way to go here.
  • Always have your eye out for that unique mentor that meshes with your personality and needs. Conversation, experience and dialogue are the keys to determining if a person is the right fit for you.
  • It is never too early to start connecting with your peers and cohorts at professional meetings and continuing education events.
  • Establishing an easy rapport with a mentor before you find yourself needing questions answered and opinions verified is the best time to do so.

This leads us to where to find a mentor:

  • You may be lucky enough to find a mentor at your school or workplace. But often we find them where we find everything nowadays - the internet. I'm not necessarily suggesting an online mentoring network. But reaching out to build networks beyond your geographical scope can be a big part of successfully using the web to build your professional presence. So why not find a mentor this way? You can start by building your presence with a profile on LinkedIn. Once you have established your profile here start looking around and connecting with your peers.
  • Reading and commenting on online journal articles is a great way to find someone with a common background or interest who may be willing to take you under their wing. Read everything you can find about those around you who are seeking a common goal. Then reach out to them through email or phone calls. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and ask someone to be your mentor.

How to know if a mentor is right for you:

  • The right fit will be evident when you share an easy rapport with a more senior person who you respect. Being able to listen respectfully and converse comfortably are key to a good mentee/mentor relationship.
  • You may read your new mentor's writing and be impressed by their knowledge and articulate way of approaching a subject. Or you may work with them and admire their skill set and their easy dialogue with patients and coworkers and decide that you would like to ask them to mentor you.
  • Be sure to tell them where you are in your educational process and what exactly you are looking for in a mentor. In other words, what are your expectations? Then they can tell you if they feel that they can comfortably meet these or not.
  • Do not be dissuaded from your search if the first mentor you approach does not prove to be the right fit for you. Remember, we may all use more than one mentor. One person may help you with the interview or application process and another may come to your side when you are starting out in that new position and just finding your place.

So get out there and look for your mentor. And someday soon you may find yourself mentoring others.

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