5. How Can You Assess, Diagnose, and Treat Mentorship that is in Trouble?

  1. Sharon E. Straus MD, FRCPC, MSc1,2 and
  2. David L. Sackett OC, MD, FRSC, FRCP3

Published Online: 4 OCT 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118446065.ch5

Mentorship in Academic Medicine

Mentorship in Academic Medicine

How to Cite

Straus, S. E. and Sackett, D. L. (2013) How Can You Assess, Diagnose, and Treat Mentorship that is in Trouble?, in Mentorship in Academic Medicine, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118446065.ch5

Author Information

  1. 1

    Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada

  2. 2

    Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

  3. 3

    Trout Research & Education Centre, Irish Lake, ON, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 OCT 2013
  2. Published Print: 2 OCT 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118446027

Online ISBN: 9781118446065



  • abuses of power;
  • bullying;
  • mentees;
  • mentorship;
  • sexual harassment


This chapter addresses the symptoms of mentorships in trouble. It identifies their most likely diagnoses, and proposes a range of preventive, curative, and rehabilitative interventions (including, as a last resort, euthanasia). The second cluster of mentorships in trouble arises from abuses of power. Again excepting the rare emergency, the repeated failure by either the mentor or mentee to do what they pledged to do at the end of the previous meeting is a symptom of a mentorship in trouble. Mentees gain valuable new skills and knowledge by taking on sub-projects of their mentor's research, or by writing an occasional report or commentary about their mentor's work, both conducted under their guidance. When mentors subject their mentees to intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or promise academic rewards in exchange for sexual favors, their behavior is not only intolerable; in most jurisdictions it is illegal.