Mentoring During COVID-19

Dr Swapnil Pawar April 23, 2020 1435

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In this podcast, Dr Ruth Gotian, assistant dean for mentoring from Weil Cornell medicine, shares her 6 tips to optimise our mentoring relationships during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is the link to her full article –

6 Tips

‘Check in’ conversations

Make sure you check in with your trainee using e-mails, texts or video calls. You don’t need a specific agenda — just check in and chat. Give your trainee plenty of time to process their new reality.

A different type of ‘to do’ list

It’s impossible to be productive when one is under intense pressure and fearing for one’s safety. To help your trainees, reduce causes of stress and reinforce ways to stay safe. Suggest ways in which they might meet their basic needs while practising social distancing, such as virtual coffee hours. Consider hosting a virtual event, perhaps with a non-scientific discussion topic.

Listen, don’t fix

As in all mentoring relationships, and especially during this time of heightened stress, it is not your role to fix a trainee’s problems. Instead, acknowledge the full range of their emotions. Let them know what they are feeling is natural and acceptable.

Lower expectations

Start small and lower expectations for yourself and your trainees. COVID-19 is taking an emotional toll on everyone and might cause us to transfer our stress onto others — often in the form of poor communication and emotional reactions. Don’t demand heightened productivity from yourself or your trainees. Expecting manuscript masterpieces or flawless grant applications to be written during this time of unprecedented stress is a tall order. Instead, offer the chance to help on one of your manuscripts. Break things down into small pieces. This is a great time to collaborate.

Suggest ways to contribute to the cause

Your trainees might want to help in the fight against COVID-19, but might also be unsure about how they can contribute while they are in isolation.

Focus on what’s important

Most importantly, remember the human and empathetic part of the mentoring relationship. Focus on what is important to the trainee at this time.

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