Mentor Information

How to Become a Mentor

The strategy to become a mentor begins by identifying a primary study program. Once identified, contact the program director who will request your NIH biosketch and other support. This study program director will serve as your advocate and present you to the Third Year committee, which meets monthly. The purpose is to assure that the research experience would be optimal for a medical student.  After approval, you are added to the Third Year website and DMAST, the searchable database where prospective students browse when deciding upon a research experience.

It is often helpful to cross-list yourself under all applicable study programs to increase your accessibility to interested medical students.  The Third Year website and DMAST draw information directly from Scholars@Duke. We suggest visiting the site regularly to update your information. Furthermore, DMAST contains additional fields relating to your research lab that you can update manually.

In an effort to nurture a positive scholarly experience and given the heterogeneity of research opportunities for students during the third year, we are providing the following information regarding mentorship during third year.

  1. Review and sign student third-year requirements, via DocuSign, within a week of receipt.
  2. Mentor is limited to two third-year students per year, or one if working with a Duke National University of Singapore student.
  3. Add your student(s) to your research protocol and furnish your student with a copy of your IRB or IACUC approval or assist them in preparing a protocol if necessary.
  4. Allocate time and attention on a regular basis to the third year student(s) in your lab to provide them with a positive and meaningful research experience. It is recommended that you meet at least weekly alone with your student(s) (not just in a lab meeting).
  5. Ensure your student(s) has access to all resources, including analytical/statistical support necessary for the successful completion of their project
  6. Provide guidance to your student(s) to help with the preparation of a poster for Annual Student Medical Symposium (mandatory event) or other oral presentations.
  7. Discuss dedicated board study time with your student(s). Students must accomplish 10 months of research. Given the increasingly competitive nature of the residency application process and the increased importance of USMLE scores, the Third Year committee recommends that mentors allow students to study for Step during a dedicated 4-6 weeks of time at the beginning of Third Year. Study program directors are available to help work out student issues or problems. They also must sign off on recommended grades and the required thesis as stated below.
  8. Review and provide feedback for your student(s) thesis 30 days prior to submission. Theses are due the last day of research and must be revised to the point where both mentor and study program director are willing to sign off on a "pass" grade.
    • Thesis deadline extensions, if needed, should be requested well in advance.
  9. Update your Duke Mentor and Student survey (DMAST) profile annually, or when needed.
  10. Share with your student(s) any information on seminars or courses they will need to take to enrich their lab experience.
  11. Submit your students’ semester grades within three weeks of the end of the semester and provide comprehensive comments for the Dean’s letter (Medical School Performance Evaluation) in March, via Qualtrics survey
  12. Study Program Directors are available to help work out student issues or problems. They also must sign off on all pertinent submissions, recommended grades and the required thesis as stated above.  Additionally, please follow up with Third Year if students are at risk for not having a successful research experience.
  13. Please review:

Please don’t hesitate to contact if you have questions.

Mentor will sign the following documents:




Mentor and Student Research Agreement

Prior to student registration


Student Registration Form

April / May prior to the Research Year


Student Research Ethics

One month after student start date


Student Mid-Year Progress Report

Four months after student start date


Grade and optional comments for Fall Term

End of December

Qualtrics Survey link

Medical Student Performance Evaluation MSPE / Dean's Letter Comments

March of Research Year

Qualtrics Survey link

Scholarly Work Product Submission

End of Research Year


Other Third Year student related forms, as needed


Typically via DocuSign



Mentors must submit a grade for each student after both the fall and spring semesters during the Third Year by completing the Evaluation in Qualtrics using the link provided by the Third Year Office. The research grade is Pass/Fail and comments are to be added in at the Spring Semester grading. 

**This grade is separate from the student's thesis grade**

Mentors are encouraged to provide specific examples to address each of the following components of the research year:

  • Familiarity with relevant literature
  • Data integrity and reproducibility*
    • *Note*:  The ability to achieve reproducible data depends on the investigative setting, but it is expected that reproducibility of at least experimental controls is possible in virtually all quantitative research settings.  Approved non-quantitative research settings will have separate criteria for research grading in this area.
  • Energy, enthusiasm, professionalism, team player
  • Intellect and concept integration
  • Work ethic
  • Formal research presentation
    • *Note*: Students are required to present their research in at least one mentored public forum by the end of the second semester:
  • Poster or Platform presentation at Duke School of Medicine Student Research Symposium (this is mandatory unless study away)
  • Oral presentation at laboratory or research group meeting
  • Oral presentation at departmental seminar
  • Poster presentation at a national meeting
  • Oral presentation at a national meeting