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Mentoring support for our fellows

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We have teamed up with the Academy of Medical Sciences to give our fellows and Emerging Leaders Prize Winners’ access to the Academy’s brilliant one-to-one Mentoring programme. The programme provides career development support by pairing early career researchers with an Academy Fellow – of which there are over 1,300 to choose from.

Having a mentor who is not necessarily familiar with you can bring in fresh ideas and inspirational interactions
Dr Linxin Li
Medical Research Foundation Fellow
Linxin Li

Mentoring is one of many personal relationships that can give guidance and reassurance along a researcher’s career journey. Meetings with a mentor, someone who is truly independent and not from the same institution or involved directly with the researcher’s work (such as a supervisor or collaborator), can provide a safe space to discuss challenges and opportunities, and plan for the future.

Mentors come from clinical and non-clinical backgrounds and have a breadth of experience to support those transitioning to independence and working towards leading their own research teams.

Dr Linxin Li, a Medical Research Foundation Fellow, joined the scheme in December. Dr Li’s Foundation-funded project is examining different types of stroke in young adults, to determine the potential role of treatable risk factors.

“I have always valued the important role of mentoring in one’s career development… having a mentor who is not necessarily familiar with you can sometimes bring in fresh ideas and inspirational interactions”, says Dr Li.

“The matching process is very helpful as it allows the mentors and the mentees to be paired according to some mutual interest, which makes the mentoring experience focused around things that matter most to the mentees.

“Although I have only had one session with my mentor so far, it has already brought me new visions of my own career development. The shared experiences from the mentor are extremely valuable and supportive when I’m faced with similar turning points.”

Mentors also enjoy meeting with early career researchers regularly and building rapport to support someone they do not directly supervise. They can also learn about different experiences across the country and different research fields.

Professor Chris Butler FMedSci, Academy mentor, says:

"I got a great deal out of the mentoring programme. I felt like I was giving a little back by helping someone reflect on the best ways for them of negotiating an increasingly challenging and complex academic career environment.

"I felt humbled and grateful to help, even if in a small and general way, one who currently faces similar challenges to those that I once grappled with.

"It was also good to learn about shifting direction from advice-giving to providing an opportunity for the mentee to reflect on what would be best for her."

While we cannot know what challenges 2021 will present for the research community, getting mentoring relationships established now could offer the support needed to help early career researchers weather these uncertain times. If you would like to join the Mentoring programme, please contact the Academy office to express your interest, they will send you further information about getting started. There is also more information on their website.

Further resources

The Academy of Medical Sciences ensures that all mentoring resources are freely available. These resources include webinars and articles such as an introduction to mentoring, top tips for mentees and the OSCAR model for mentors to structure their mentoring sessions.

They have also recently added a section on mentoring support to their COVID-19 Career Support Space - developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic - which brings together personal stories from researchers at different career stages with free resources. The space covers a range of topics, including Looking after yourself and Leading your team.

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