In medicine mentoring has a long-standing tradition of facilitating professional growth, both clinically and academically.  Currently work/life balance issues have become increasingly important to junior doctors and their struggles in attaining it have led to new reasons to seek a mentor.  In the past previous mentoring relationships were sought informally but there is an increasing drive by specialty colleges to support more formal mentoring programs, a process already in place in other arenas of medicine such as medical schools and hospital based programs for interns and residents.  The College of Intensive Care Medicine advises its trainees to find their own mentors, but due to the personal nature of the relationship, leaves it up to the trainee and ICUs to form the relationship.


Mentoring for female physicians has a number of positive consequences.  Evidence suggests that mentoring for women doctors can improve their research participation and post-graduate qualifications.  In addition to leading them to leadership positions and becoming mentors themselves.  Ironically women doctors are less likely to seek or have a mentor, for a variety of reasons from both those seeking a mentor and those that would be potential mentors.  Possible reasons are:


  1. A lack of senior female mentors, or mentors that female physicians may identify with to help achieve a work/life balance.

  2. Not wanting to be perceived as requiring help, especially in male dominated specialties where mate-ship can lead to a mentoring relationships naturally.

  3. Lack of time on the part of the mentee.

  4. Not wanting to put themselves forward, in case of rejection from the potential mentor.

  5. Male mentors may feel uncomfortable with being a mentor to a junior female doctor.

  6. Senior clinicians lacking time to commit to a mentoring relationship.

  7. Lack of mentoring skills.


Different types of mentoring have been defined, dependent on the mentee’s reasons for seeking a mentor, and many doctors will have more than one through out their career.

Some examples are:

  1. Peer mentoring – Having a mentor 1-3 years senior, can help navigate the next few years for junior doctors.  The peer mentor offers a set of skills that have just allowed them to go through a similar obstacles and therefore have the benefit of recent knowledge, shared age and interests to help the mentee.

  2. Goal oriented mentoring – This is largely in the realm of research, where having a research mentor helps improve productivity, overcome specific difficulties and help define and reach goals. can help facilitate networking and professional relationships.

  3. Group mentoring – Often led by a single mentor, with 2-3 mentees in the group. This allows participants to benefit from mutual support amongst the mentees themselves, as well as the support and advice from the mentor. 


WIN is committed to ensuring female intensivists and trainees have access to a mentor, and to being a mentor, and will facilitate this through networking events and resources listed on the website.


For more resources on mentoring: