Enduring mentoring partnership: A reflective case study and recommendations for evaluating mentoring in dietetics


  • J. Hawker, BSc, Casual Teaching Associate, APD
  • A. McMillan, BhealthSc, Dietitian, APD
  • C. Palermo, PhD, Senior Lecturer, APD



There are little published data on the effectiveness and outcomes of mentoring in nutrition and dietetics. The aim of this case study was to determine the characteristics of an effective and enduring mentoring partnership.


A qualitative case study research approach using critical reflexivity was used to examine a mentoring relationship. Mentoring partnership data were collected through memory work and the review of written records was kept by the mentor and mentee of their meetings. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis approach and rigor enhanced through triangulation of data analysis.


Six key themes emerged from the data. Compatibility and commitment to the mentoring partnership by mentor and mentee were essential elements in this relationship. The mentee found that long-term support offered by the mentor and facilitation of reflective practice were the key benefits of the relationship. The mentor found it rewarding to observe the mentee's development from new graduate to experienced and confident practitioner and learned skills in facilitating learning. The experience has helped the mentor take a more proactive and outcome-based approach to her mentoring relationships.


Sole practitioners, in the absence of the support from supervisors and coworkers, may benefit more from mentoring beyond the provisional year. There is a need for the provision of training opportunities for those dietitians wishing to embark on a mentoring role as most mentors learn on the job. The profession needs to look at ways of measuring the effectiveness of mentoring partnerships.