What is the Value of Mentorship?

Bonnie Gregory, MD | Aaron Brandt, MD

December 7, 2022

Employed in both formal and informal ways in medicine and business alike, a mentorship relationship is considered to be dynamic, reciprocal, symbiotic, and long-term. Mentorship can be beneficial to the career of both mentor and mentee, as well as to the department and field of orthopedics in general.

Where to start?

In terms of establishing mentorship relations, a true mentorship relationship is something that comes with time.  The first step is to recognize that there are many ways we can impact each other throughout training and career.  As you move through this process, we have to look for mentors, but also understand the value of other roles people can have such as sponsorship and advising.  Medical students and residents begin to establish these relationships by deciding what they need at the time and look for people who can fill that role.

Students and residents can start by evaluating faculty at their home institution.  Many medical schools and orthopedic departments have formal mentorship programs to match interested mentors and mentees.  Mentorship is something that can be established formally with programming, but often the best relationships develop from opportunity.  Every lecture, journal club, grand rounds, or shadowing opportunity can present such an opportunity.  Use resources available to you to identify faculty with interests or backgrounds that mirror yours.  Additionally, getting involved in research efforts can aide in cultivating a mentorship relationship. Trainees can also use alumni networks, professional societies like Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society (RJOS), Nth Dimensions, Perry Initiative, J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society (JRGOS), or other subspecialty societies, and formal and informal interactions at annual meetings to meet faculty at other institutions.   Finally, social media can also be a tool to connect with mentors at other institutions. 

What is a successful mentorship relationship?

Above all, the relationship should be one built on mutual respect, honestly, active listening, flexibility, reciprocity, personal connection, and shared values, regardless of how it is established. If strong, a mentorship relationship may last a career. Alternatively, and likely more commonly, different mentorship relationships may benefit your career at different points or may even exist concurrently. Regardless, as you advance through your career, mentors and advocates in your home department are important for promotion, leadership development as well as practice development. As such, no matter your stage in orthopedics- student, resident, fellow, junior faculty or seasoned chair- mentorship should be an integral part of your professional and personal development.

Who benefits from Mentorship?


The benefits of mentorship to the mentee are likely most readily apparent. Literature has shown that mentored individuals are more likely to publish, be promoted earlier, and follow initial career goals than those that are not. Additionally, mentored individuals enjoy greater career satisfaction than those without a mentor. The importance of this benefit cannot be overstated, as physician burnout, career dissatisfaction, and frequent early job changes continue to plague our specialty.  Conversely, lack of a mentor is frequently cited by women and URMs as a deficiency for career development across surgical specialties.


Mentors can also benefit greatly from active participation in mentorship, as significant personal gratification can come from helping another achieve success. Additionally, mentors may benefit from increased research productivity, academic advancement, professional development, and self-reflection about one’s own career goals. Finally, mentors can help to broaden the pool of applicants interested in orthopedics and help attract students who otherwise may not be encouraged to pursue this amazing field.


Strong mentorship programs and relationship can help departments recruit and retain engaged faculty and trainees. Similarly, employing mentorship opportunities and using programs like those previously mentioned (RJOS, JRGOS, etc) can help departments attract trainees from more diverse backgrounds and a larger geographic area. This benefits not just individual programs, but orthopedics in general as we seek to be more representative of our diverse patient population.

Aiyer, Amiethab A. MD; Mody, Kush S. BS; Dib, Aseel G. BS; Kaplan, Jonathan R. MD; Varacallo, Matthew A. MD; LaPorte, Dawn M. MD; Levine, William N. MD. Medical Student Mentorship in Orthopaedic Surgery. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: August 15, 2021 – Volume 29 – Issue 16 – p 681-690. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-20-01274

DISCLOSURES: Dr. Gregory This individual reported nothing to disclose Dr. Brandt This individual reported nothing to disclose.

Read the AAOS Code of Conduct for Discussion Group Terms, Conditions and Disclaimers HERE.

Copyright© 2022 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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