Being a Mentor: What’s in It for Me?


  • Wendy C. Coates MD

    1. From the Acute Care College at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA; Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA; and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA.
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  • Presented as an invited lecture at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine annual meeting, Phoenix, AZ, June 2010.

  • The author was reimbursed $100.00 from the annual meeting registration fee for presenting this session. There are no other financial disclosures or conflicts of interest to report.

  • Supervising Editor: Richard Lammers, MD.

Address for correspondence and reprints: Wendy C. Coates, MD; e-mail:


ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2012; 19:92–97 © 2012 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine


The benefits of mentorship for the protégé are well established and include increased career satisfaction, advancement, and income. Mentors can derive satisfaction from personal and professional networks within their institutions and specialties. However, the advantages of being a mentor are underreported in the medical literature. The purpose of this review is to investigate the effect of the mentoring relationship on the mentors and institutions in disciplines that have studied it widely and to draw parallels to academic medicine. Literature in the fields of business, organizational psychology, and kindergarten through high school (K-12) education describe benefits of serving as a mentor to the individual, organization, and discipline. Potential mentors are intensely self-motivated and derive satisfaction from developing junior colleagues and improving their institutions. Business mentors take pride in junior colleagues’ achievements and enjoy improved recognition by superiors, favorable perception within the organization, increased job satisfaction, accelerated promotion rates, higher salaries, development of managerial skills, and improved technical expertise. Organizations enjoy worker longevity from both members of the partnership and benefit from the formation of networks. In the K-12 education model, master teachers who train novices are more likely to remain in the classroom or advance to an administrative role. Application of the principles from these disciplines to academic medicine is likely to produce similarly positive outcomes of personal satisfaction, collaboration, and academic and institutional advancement.