Best Practices

Reciprocity ·Mutual respect ·Clear expectations ·Personal connection ·Shared values

Matching Mentors and Mentees

The literature supports mentees having the opportunity to be involved in choosing a mentor as compared to the more traditional process whereby mentors and mentees are matched by an external party1,2,3. Evidence suggests that a mentee’s input into the matching process is associated with greater mentorship quality4.

Providing potential mentors and mentees a short questionnaire to fill out to highlight their interests and values is a great step to help foster meaningful matches within a mentoring program5.

It is crucial for mentorship programs to adopt the mentorship model that meets the needs of the individuals involved. This may result in differing mentoring models being adopted for different units within a faculty or institution. Regardless of the mentorship model adopted, mentors should be removed from any processes related to the appraisal of their mentee to avoid the risk of confidentiality breaches, role overlap, and assessment bias6.

To review mentorship models, click here.

Duration of the Mentoring Relationship

The literature suggests that the initial term for a mentoring relationship should be 1 year and renewable7. This provides enough time for the mentor and mentee to determine if they are satisfied with the arrangement. However, there is no real timeline as to how long the mentorship has to last.

Meeting Frequency

  • The expectation is that mentors and mentees should meet regularly8. Twice a year should be a minimum requirement9,10.
  • If necessary, communicating via e-mail and telephone regularly between meetings is also encouraged11.

Record Keeping

  • It is advantageous for both the mentor and mentee to keep a written record of meeting discussions, particularly to measure progress and accomplishment of goals12.
  • Mentors and mentees should mutually decide on what kind of records of meetings should be retained.
  • Confidentiality of records is of the utmost importance.

Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries may not be easy, but it is a necessary step to clarify the behavior expectations of both the mentor and mentee. Establishing clear boundaries results in the creation of an environment of safety and trust within the mentoring relationship. 
Some boundaries may be set by the rules and policies in place for an established mentorship program. However, it is important for both mentors and mentees to also establish individual boundaries for their mentoring relationship13.
Discuss boundaries from the very start of a mentoring relationship. Examples of boundaries to discuss include:

  • When and where meetings will take place
  • Mentor and mentee availability outside of meetings
  • Appropriate means of communication (e.g. texts; emails; phone calls; video-conference)
  • Self-disclosure/topics of discussion
  • How to ensure confidentiality

The creation of a mentoring contract which outlines the boundaries within a mentoring relationship is strongly encouraged to help facilitate the boundary setting process. For more information on creating a mentoring contact, please see the Mentoring Contract section below.
Please click the following links below to review guides for setting boundaries within the mentoring relationship:
Establishing Boundaries: The how-to guide
Developing Your Mentoring Relationship and How to Set Healthy Boundaries with Your Mentee
If a mentor or mentee forgets about a boundary and oversteps, it is important to kindly remind them that you do not feel comfortable as stated by the boundary you set from the beginning13.
It is important to be kind and patient, but do not ignore the overstepping behavior. If it gets ignored, the behaviour could continue and evolve into a damaging mentoring relationship.

Mentoring Contract - Cultivating the Mentoring Relationship

  • Once a match has been made, the mentoring relationship requires cultivation14
  • The creation of a formal mentoring contract between a mentor and mentee provides the opportunity to outline the following components of the mentoring realtionship2,14,15:
    • Relationship objectives and goals
    • Meeting frequency
    • Key responsibilities of each party
    • Relationship boundaries
    • What to do if one or more parties feel that the relationship is not working
    • How to monitor success

Such information is essential to clarify at the initiation of a mentoring relationship.
Click here to download a sample mentoring agreement template that you can adapt.

The practical application of being a Mentor presentation by Dr. Tracey Bridger


  1. Kashiwagi, D. T., Varkey, P. & Cook, D. A. Mentoring programs for physicians in academic medicine: A systematic review. Acad. Med. 88, 1029–1037 (2013).
  2. Law, A. V. et al. A checklist for the development of faculty mentorship programs. Am. J. Pharm. Educ.78, (2014).
  3. Soklaridis, S. et al. Developing a mentorship program for psychiatry residents. Acad. Psychiatry 39, 10–15 (2015).
  4. Allen, T. D., Eby, L. T. & Lentz, E. Mentorship behaviors and mentorship quality associated with formal mentoring programs: Closing the gap between research and practice. J. Appl. Psychol. 91, 567–578 (2006).
  5. RCPCH(UK). Standards for Mentoring Programmes & Schemes. (2014).
  6. Taherian, K. & Shekarchian, M. Mentoring for doctors. Do its benefits outweigh its disadvantages? Med. Teach. 30, (2008).
  7. Farrell, S. E., Digioia, N. M., Broderick, K. B. & Coates, W. C. Mentoring for clinician-educators. Acad. Emerg. Med. 11, 1346–1350 (2004).
  8. Straus, S. E., Chatur, F. & Taylor, M. Issues in the mentor-mentee relationship in academic medicine: A qualitative study. Acad. Med. 84, 135–139 (2009).
  9. Department of Medicine Mentoring Program | Department of Medicine. Available at: (Accessed: 18th October 2019)
  10. Kim, C. C. et al. A model in dermatology for long-distance mentoring. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 68, 860–862 (2013).
  11. Straus, S. E., Johnson, M. O., Marquez, C. & Feldman, M. D. Characteristics of successful and failed mentoring relationships: A qualitative study across two academic health centers. Acad. Med. 88, 82–89 (2013).
  12. Taylor, A. L., Phillips, K. W., Gonzalez, R. L., Mitchel, D. A. & & Roberts, S. K. Guide to Best Practices in Faculty Mentoring. (2016).
  13. Why boundary setting matters in mentor-mentee relationships - MSU Extension. Available at: (Accessed: 27th August 2019)
  14. Zerzan, J. T., Hess, R., Schur, E., Phillips, R. S. & Rigotti, N. Making the most of mentors: A guide for mentees. Acad. Med. 84, 140–144 (2009).
  15. Establishing ground rules of the mentoring relationship : Guidance for mentors. Available at: (Accessed: 27th August 2019)