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Mentor Program

Introduction

To develop a bridge between the academic and the practical world, students entering the MHA Program select a mentor from interested and supportive members of the administrative health care or business community. Mentors offer guidance during the students' academic experience. This program often leads to lifetime relationships.

The MHA Mentorship Committee maintains a set of guidelines for mutual expectations and activities when participating in the program, and also a sample list of activities for mentor/student interaction. The guidelines are offered to help provide the best possible outcome for both mentors and students. They are not intended to be prescriptive, or to narrow in any way, the potential of this relationship. The list of activities is solely intended to prompt individual thinking, not to limit the creativity and imagination of mentors and students in fashioning other innovative activities.

The MHA Program is committed to the Mentor Program. We view the personal and professional relationships that grow out of this special program as a potentially central component of the MHA student's experience and, over time, of the mentor executive's interaction with the MHA Program.

Program Goals

  • To develop a bridge between the academic and professional practice world for students.
  • To provide professional guidance to students.
  • To provide a leadership role model for students.
  • To develop individual relationships between students and practicing health administration professionals that will enhance the professional networks for both.
  • To exhibit and develop mutual understandings concerning the ethical practice of health services administration.
  • To provide interested students with mentors during their graduate school experience, hopefully to build relationships that will last past graduate school in many instances.
  • To build positive mentor/student relationships that will provide valuable opportunities for mutual learning with respect to managerial styles, organizational success factors, and leadership approaches in health care.
  • To provide mentors and students with mutually valuable contacts through the networking dynamics of the program.
  • To provide guidance and career direction.

Desired Characteristics of Mentors

  • Genuine interest in helping and building a personal relationship with a student.
  • Commitment to their profession.
  • Commitment to continuing education and career development.
  • Personal insight, empathy, and listening skills.
  • Willingness to take risks in the sharing of concepts and information, trusting that the student will honor confidences and the private, special nature of certain exchanges.
  • Availability of, and willingness to commit, time to share with students.
  • Collectively, representative of diversity in the population and practice environment (e.g., with respect to ethnicity, gender, health care setting).

Expectations of Students

  • Initiate meeting with mentor at least once per month.
  • Take responsibility for structuring a preliminary list of what is discussed at those meetings.
  • At the beginning of the relationship, communicate clearly and negotiate with the mentor your goals for your time together.
  • Invest time in learning about the mentor's organization and professional roles and responsibilities.
  • Honor any commitments made to the mentor and respect the basic privacy and confidentiality inherent in the communication that occurs within the relationship. Actively request information and counsel from the mentor on a periodic basis and communicate with the mentor as to how the advice or information might have been used. Accept that the relationship is temporary, but be alert for the possibility that it may extend for a longer time frame.
  • Express your appreciation for the mentor's time, information, counsel, and sharing of opportunities with you.

Expectations of Mentors

  • Make a special effort to be available to your student at least once per month, away from the distractions of your work, if at all possible.
  • Share up-front with your student your specific expectations for the relationship.
  • Invest time in learning about the aspirations, attributes, and preferences of your student.
  • Periodically identify special learning opportunities in your organization or in professional networks for your student.
  • Actively assist the student in developing his or her own personal network of professional contacts in health administration.
  • Honor any commitments to and confidences of your student.
  • Periodically validate with your student the value of the information and counsel you are providing.
  • Provide honest, caring, regular, and diplomatic feedback to your student.

Sample Activities for Mentoring

  • Develop a mutual professional reading list and discuss a few articles at a time, emphasizing their practical application and relevance to the mentor's and student's professional experience. Exchange and discuss ideas relevant to each other's professional and academic roles, particularly upcoming, concrete challenges.
  • Discuss various management or leadership styles-what works, and what does not. Attend professional seminars or meetings together, sharing ideas on the insights gained from those experiences. Discuss career and internship options. Please note that mentors are not expected to function as a "placement service." Share a meal or social function together for the benefit of time together and to "bond" in the relationship.
  • Discuss problems emerging in professional or academic contexts and share views on their most effective resolution.
  • Attend a meeting or presentation together in the mentor's organization.
  • Meet with other individuals from the mentor's organization or a broader network of professional colleagues.
  • Review the mentor organization's annual report and discuss the organization's future, discussing the environmental and internal factors that will be crucial to future success.
  • Exchange and discuss a statement or list of future personal and professional goals.
  • Discuss class projects and consider whether (and if so, how) the mentor's organization might represent a useful "real-world laboratory" for specific projects.
  • Introduce the student to people and materials that might provide input and contribute to building skills in management, planning, and policy. For example: effective delegation, performance appraisal, time management, public presentations, organizing a meeting, interviewing, job search, etc.
  • Attend a meeting together of a civic, social, or business organization and discuss the experience.
  • The preceding ideas for activities offer a starting list, but we strongly encourage both mentors and students to invent new possibilities for their special relationship. This creativity will energize the connection between both of you, while creating new ideas that we hope you will share with our committee.

Eligibility

This program is open to all MHA students who wish to participate and are willing to fulfill the expectations of the program. Mentors will be identified by the Mentorship Committee from professional members of the health administration community. The committee actively seeks volunteers from the health care executive community to serve as mentors.

Contacts

  • Jane Maule, Program Coordinator
    Contact person for Mentor Program materials and correspondence
    206-616-2933
  • Douglas Conrad, Professor
    Mentor Program Faculty Liaison
    206-616-2923