Exploring the Power of Mentorship in Public Health Research

In this article, we explore the benefits of mentorship in the field of public health research.

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Mentorship sometimes comes across as an antiquated concept. In a world where people only ever “meet,” their coworkers from behind the screen of a computer, how can you even establish a dependable Yoda/Luke dynamic that is necessary for mentorship? Luke and Yoda, by the way, are the officially established public health research mentorship standard.

Workplace relationships of every kind indeed require more deliberate effort than they used to. However, the benefits of mentorship can still have a transformative impact on the people who experience them. In the context of public health research, it can serve as a catalyst, connecting researchers with better resources while also simply improving their ability to establish themselves in a difficult field.

In this article, we explore the benefits of mentorship in the field of public health research.

What is Mentorship?

A mentorship relationship does not need to be a formal arrangement. In fact, it is possible to be in one and not even realise it. If you have ever taken sage advice from a trusted friend with a little bit more experience on a given topic than you, you’ve engaged in some form of mentorship.

In professional circuits, mentorship relationships may be more formal and goal driven. Some professional organisations even work to encourage them by establishing programs that connect new hires with experienced staff leaders.

Whether your mentorship dynamic is informal, or the product of a professional program, you can use it to improve your health research and advance in your career.

Mentorship in the Research Community

Mentorship is a concept that exists in almost every professional discipline. However, it holds a unique place in the world of academia, where fields like medicine and engineering grow in complexity each year.

Students are expected to get more schooling and professional training than ever before to keep up with the increasing challenges of the post-digital academic world.

The growing complexity of medical research has placed a bigger emphasis on collaboration than ever previously existed.

The benefits of mentorship are at once practical— the mentor imparts their understanding of the field to their protégé— and social. Research can be a lonely pursuit. Professional friendships lend a valuable sense of community to the undertaking that can provide practical benefits to the ultimate outcome of the research.

Goal Setting

A well-established researcher will have a keen understanding of the preparation that goes into a public health data collection process. Having someone to sit down and discuss your goals can add clarity to what you are hoping to achieve.

This heightened degree of focus can help you narrow the scope of your project and obtain clearer results.


Newly minted researchers find themselves in unique territory. Obviously, they are brainy. You don’t become a public health researcher without the smarts to back it up. At the same time, though, they are untested.

Even really tough classroom assignments can’t mimic the challenges of a real research project. As new researchers try to acclimate to these challenges, they can benefit from the assistance of someone who is willing to assume a teacher-like role.

You’re independent, but with the small safety net of having someone experienced and helpful by your side.


Established professionals in the research field may also have valuable connections that they can lend to their proteges. This may mean connecting them with people who can further their research or identifying places that might spotlight the research findings when the study is complete.

Scaffolding Knowledge

Researchers work in a stream of continuity that began well before they were born and will continue long after they are gone. This scaffolding effect is what allows humanity to make exponential progress. However, it can also make jumping into the world of public research more challenging.

You need more than just good ideas. You also need to understand what has come before you, what is being researched right now, and what the anticipated trajectory of your discipline is.

A good mentor makes it easier to wade into the vast stream of research continuity without being swept up in fast-moving currents.

They can be a sounding board, an editor, a friend who understands the challenges you are facing and is happy to simply lend an ear.

Research is hard. Having someone in your corner who can relate to and guide you is a vital asset in a field that is competitive and sometimes even cutthroat.

This article was guest written by Andrew Deen.

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