The State of Mentoring...

Oct 04 2011 Published by under Mentoring, Uncategorized

So I have heard much debate recently over the topic of mentorship and its been split amongst two camps, those that believe that the quality of mentorship has increased and those that believe the golden age of mentorship has passed us by.  I personally like to think its getting better what with people talking more about shitty mentorship, whole workshops regarding mentorship, and recent prospective graduate students seeming to be more cognizant of this and ask potential mentors about their mentorship style.

I've heard from detractors that PI's are too busy to mentor like they used to back in the day because of the increased stress of getting out papers and grants, in addition to dealing with the ever increasing myriad of institutional bureaucracy.

So dear reader, what do you think is the current state of mentorship?

5 responses so far

  • becca says:

    There are a couple of options I think are most likely
    1) mentoring has always sucked, and throwing out 11/12 trainees based on terrible mentoring environments is perfectly sustainable
    2) mentoring has gotten worse, and it's harder than ever (more diverse trainees requires more diverse mentorship styles). It's gotten more formalized (workshops ect.) because it's gotten harder, not because people are required to do it better.

  • Joseph says:

    I also think mentoring varies enormously by institution, and even by research group. People who decide that you are a long term asset are much better mentors than the "produce or die" crowd. Both strategies can co-exist in the modern research environment, as can blends and mixes of the two.

    There is also the fact that different personalities click or don't click depending on a lot of factors. If physioprof is as blunt as a researcher as a blogger I'd love working for him, but not everyone would.

    So mentoring may be a function of a time and a place, more than anything else.

    • Pat says:

      I agree that mentoring varies by institution and research group.

      In addition, a lack of time dedicated to students or a lack of supervision may be viewed as bad mentoring for one student but may be totally fine for another one.

      Also, we usually don't hear about "good mentoring"...

  • Bashir says:

    Mentoring levels are stochastic. I don't know how things used to be, but I cannot think of what would have changed mentoring over the years. Perhaps grants have increased and PIs are more busy, I don't think mentoring has much to do with being busy. I know good mentors who are very busy, and bad ones who are less so. In most cases folks are left to their own devices to develop mentoring skills, or not. As far as I know few are evaluated for their mentoring skills, and there are no consequences for poor mentoring.

  • becca says:

    Bashir- I think "busy" is the wrong mediator. In other words, I'd postulate that it isn't writing grants-> busy PI -> bad mentoring, it's needing grants -> stressed PI -> bad mentoring. Soft money faculty positions with PIs funding grad students on their grants produce very different faculty-student relationships (on average) than tenured profs with grad students funded on TAships or fellowships not associated with the PI. At least, I've always attributed the differences I see between disciplines in part to that. Otherwise, the simplest explanation is biomedical scientists are intrinsically jerkier than physicsts/chemists/social scientists.

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