6 qualities a good mentor in healthcare should have

Susanna Kahr

A mentor can be a huge help on your healthcare career trajectory; having someone that is objective, experienced and able to offer sound advice can help you make the most of your time and training. While a mentor can help in any field, the constantly evolving state of healthcare means that a mentor is absolutely essential to help you navigate the business and industry. Whether you’re a new grad, an established worker or provider or ready to make the jump to the next level, a mentor can make a huge difference for you.

What is a mentor and what do they do?

A mentor is someone who has experience and wisdom – and who has already learned from both mistakes and successes. The right mentor for you could be someone you already know, someone from your own company or even a family member. The most important thing is their willingness to provide you with support and assistance and give you objective and helpful advice as your own career advances.

The right mentor for you will be someone who you connect with, who has an understanding of your goals and field and who supports your ideas. They should also have the time to spend and solid experience, so they can speak from a place in wisdom. Here’s what an ideal mentor looks like and what they could offer you:

Knowledge and experience

The right mentor is further along in their career than you are; not just a step or two, but well established and far further along in their career trajectory. The only way a mentor can effectively help you is to have solid experience and wisdom. Someone just getting started is not an ideal mentor, even if they are a step above you on the corporate ladder, because they simply won’t have the experience needed to help.

“Employees watch and learn from management.” – anonymous employer review from Urban Outfitters

The heart of a teacher

A mentor with extensive experience and a lofty position won’t help you well if they are not truly interested in sharing their wisdom. In order to benefit, you need to understand the “why” of advice – not just take direction. A provider who is further along in their career and who is willing to spend time advising you is better than a Rockstarexpert who just doesn’t have the interest in mentoring you long term.

“Management is good at teaching and explaining things.” – anonymous employer review from AnCap Management

Time to commit

Your mentor needs to be available to you and willing to spend the time to help you learn. If they are overcommitted, in a high stress job and working long days, they may not have the time to help, even if they are willing to do so. You could end up becoming a burden, not a blessing and damage your relationship if things get too stressful.

“The owner really cares about her employees. She is daily hands on and is always available.” – anonymous employer review at Blue Crest Management

Communication style alignment

If you respond well to blunt, straightforward advice and suggestions, you’ll thrive with a straight-talking mentor. If you shy away from conflict, struggle with confidence or are put off by a direct approach, then someone who more closely aligns with your style – and who has a gentle approach – might be best.

A hospital administrator known for gruff, critical comments may be able to give you advice you can act on, but if their communication style makes you uncomfortable, you won’t want to spend time with them. This is another variable factor; the communication style you prefer will depend on your own comfort zone and willingness to accept criticism.

“I love the communication with the higher staff and absolutely enjoyed the training process as well.” – anonymous employer review at APPEN

They embrace learning and change

You won’t benefit much from someone who does not embrace current technology and the state of healthcare today. Someone from an older generation will certainly have excellent advice and be able to help with background on some topics, but if they distrust technology and the changes that the industry has experienced, they won’t get what it is like to start out in the industry today. While many older providers and professionals have adapted to change, some have not – make sure the mentor you choose has the ability to understand the challenges you face today and embraces lifelong learning.

“Management is supportive of professional and educational goals.” – anonymous employer review at Center for Hearing and Communication

Healthcare experience

While a mentor in another field will have solid experience and wisdom, healthcare is a unique industry, with constantly changing regulations and strong, dedicated personalities. Someone who has been immersed in a healthcare environment will be better able to understand the potential challenges you face and be able to help you find specific solutions that truly move your forward. Healthcare brands are more focused than ever before on employee retention, so the right mentor for you could be right in your own facility.

“Compassionate and dedicated to providing a fulfilling work environment.”  – anonymous employer review at Aureus Medical Management Services


The right mentor for you will depend on your own interests, style and goals; the person you choose should also have the time to commit to mentoring you and have a communication style that resonates with you. When you do find the right person for you, you will benefit in many ways – and ideally, they will too.



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