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 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 draws information directly from Scholars@Duke. We suggest visiting the site regularly to update your information.

    The following guidelines may help you in your mentoring experience. We hope you and your student(s) will find the research year a rich and rewarding experience. 

    1. Be prepared to 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.
    2. Be willing to 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).
    3. Share with your student(s) any information on seminars or courses available that they may need enrich their scholarly experience.  All third year students, except those with scholarships or extraordinary circumstances, are required to take the Clinical Skills continuity clinic. 
    4. Provide guidance to your student(s) to help with the preparation of a poster for Duke School of Medicine Student Research Symposium (MedSym) mandatory event) or other oral presentations.
    5. Students must accomplish 10 months of research. The School of Medicine calendar for third year students has three weeks of vacation. This includes a 2 week December break. 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 1 during a dedicated 4 weeks of time at the beginning of Third Year. Students are advised to discuss studying for board exams as early as possible with their mentors and Study Program Directors and completion of the Board Prepartion section of the Registration Form is required.
    6. 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.
    7. 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. The thesis carries three academic credits and is a grade separate from the research grade.  Please review Thesis Requirements prior to review. The study program director may return theses for revisions to both the mentor and student that do not meet the minimum requirements. We suggest at least 3 weeks in advance of the due date to allow time for appropriate modifications. 
      • Students must have all signatures (electronic or email signatures are acceptable) on the final thesis title page before the deadline. Thesis deadline extensions will be granted only under exceptional circumstances and require a formal request signed by the research mentor and approved by the Third Year Committee. Extension requests should be made well before the last day of research (three months is suggested), because if the request is denied, the student must still finish by the original deadline.
    8. Occasionally, students need to change their enrollment status (10 - 11 months, 11- 12 months, etc...)  or roll their deadline by one month if having taken one fourth year elective during the research year. The Form requesting changes must be submitted by May 15th of the research year.
    9. Please submit your students’ semester grades within three weeks of the end of the semester via the Electronic Grading procedure ( if you are Duke mentor. If you are an away mentor, please complete the Evaluation in Qualtrics using the link provided by the Third Year Office.

    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 their thesis grade**

    Mentors are encouraged to provide specific examples to address each of the following components of the Fall or Spring research portion of their 3rd year experience: 

    • 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