What a mentor is not

There is a lot of discussion about what mentoring in medical education looks like but very little discussion about what mentoring is not. Part of the confusion is because people may have multiple roles in a mentee’s life and it is difficult to understand the boundaries between those roles. In each of the situations listed below, the mentor may also be a supervisor, expert or friend.
A mentor is not a supervisor
A supervisor is responsible for evaluating and career decision-making. Roles that are not consistent with the trust and risk taking required in a mentoring relationship. A supervisor has an organizationally determined job description that may be incompatible with the mutual negotiation required when mentoring.
A mentor is not an expert
An expert is someone who offers his or her expertise in a one-way, predetermined flow of knowledge. Experts are called in to analyze, evaluate and solve problems. Mentors assist the mentee in identifying, evaluating and solving problems that are the mentee’s responsibility
A mentor is not a friend
Friends offer a social and supportive system that centre on enjoyment and support in times of personal questioning. A mentor is primarily a professional support person who facilitates new learning experiences and assists with professional connections.

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