Choosing a Faculty Mentor

You must work on your research with supervision and guidance from a Faculty Mentor. Faculty mentors may be any UWSOM faculty members with an Affiliate, Adjunct, Acting, Clinical, or Regular faculty appointment; this includes those at the Instructor level. Fellows and residents do not hold Faculty appointments, and are not eligible to be a research mentor or co-mentor.

The Faculty Mentor’s role is to help you plan your study, meet with you regularly during the execution of the project, and provide feedback on your final poster. Your Faculty Mentor must approve and sign your research proposal, as well as review and approve your final poster prior to presenting it at the mandatory III Medical Student Poster Session in the Fall. They will also submit an evaluation of your work.

If your Faculty Mentor does not have a UWSOM faculty appointment, you will need a Faculty Co-mentor who does have a UWSOM faculty appointment. In this case, a Faculty Co-mentor is needed in order to provide assistance through UWSOM in case issues arise, and to be able to provide an evaluation of your work. If you have a Faculty Co-mentor, you will still work primarily with your Faculty Mentor and check in with your Faculty Co-mentor every 2-4 weeks (or more as needed) throughout the summer.

The Faculty Mentor you choose and the relationship you build will be among the most important considerations in making this experience successful, enjoyable, and valuable. Faculty Mentors need to be:

  • Experienced with your topic.
  • Familiar with the methods you are planning to use in your study.
  • Available to meet with you (weekly at minimum) during the summer term to guide you through your project and poster.
  • Someone with skills and knowledge that complement those you bring to the project.
  • Enthusiastic about working with you

The ideal Faculty Mentor also:

  • Develops a supportive environment for scholarship
  • Values scholarship
  • Demonstrates professionalism

Once you have identified a few faculty members who you may want to work with, start by contacting them by email. A few best practices for initiating contact are:

  1. Address them respectfully by their title (i.e. Dear Dr. Stack).
  2. Introduce yourself. For example, “I am a UW medical student seeking a summer project and see that we share an interest in…..”)
  3. Explain why you are interested. Is this topic something you enjoy reading about? Do you have experience that could be useful? (Include your resume if this is the case. However, this is not always necessary, your interest is the main requirement!)
  4. Ask to meet. For example, “Could we meet to discuss this further? I am available in person or by phone at xxx-xxx-xxxx”
  5. If you are requesting to meet with a faculty member at another Foundations Site, let them know this and that you are able to move for the summer if needed. Consider requesting a meeting by Zoom with your phone number as a back-up.

Once you have chosen a mentor, confirm that you will work together by email, even if you have agreed in person. Next, set up a schedule of periodic meetings to develop your Project Proposal, and prepare what needs to be done in order to execute your work over the summer. Over the summer term, set up a schedule of regular meetings to ensure your project stays on track to meet the poster requirement in the Fall. Your Faculty Mentor is also responsible for editing and providing feedback on your final poster, as well as any other forms of scholarly dissemination you choose to pursue.