Background: Mentorship is considered central to physician success, and yet relatively few physicians report having formal mentors. Ever-increasing demands on physician time as well as multiple personal and professional responsibilities, make it challenging to find and sustain mentoring relationships. These challenges may be even greater in palliative medicine, a field with few mid-level to senior faculty and in which the supply of physicians is inadequate to meet the anticipated demand.
Discussion: In this article, we describe the attributes of the "ideal" mentor and the roles mentors commonly play in a protégé's career. We then discuss a framework for optimizing one's chance of fostering mentoring relationships. We conclude by discussing the evolution of and transitions in mentoring relationships, as well as how one might transition from protégé to mentor.