Mentorship in Healthcare

Blog post by Colin Hung

This week on #hcldr we are honoured to have a few special guests from the Canadian College of Healthcare Leaders @CCHL_CCLS, Emerging Healthcare Leaders and Legacy Partners join us:

  • Nadia Batara, MHA, Author and Performance Management Consultant, Mississauga Halton CCAC – @nadiaNB_
  • Tony Woolgar, MBA, Author and Partner, Legacy Partners@anthony_woolgar
  • Alex Harris, RN, MN/MHSc, CHE, Guest Editor and PhD Candidate, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing – @AlexHarrisRN

Together we will be discussing an important healthcare topic – mentorship in healthcare.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a mentor as:

A trusted counselor or guide.

What’s interesting to note is that although the definition does not include the word “teacher” there is no doubt that the mentee learns from the experience and guidance of the mentor. Personally, I have been very fortunate to have good mentors in my career. From them, I learned about business, about inter-office politics and about entrepreneurship.

Mentorship, however, takes time and dedication – two ingredients that are in short supply in healthcare. Doctors, nurses and administrators are stretched thin, leaving them little time to set aside for guiding mentees.

In their article “The mentorship imperative for health leadership”, Batara and Woolgar identify a very interesting challenge to mentorship in healthcare:

The literature maintains that finding a mentor or mentors is just the beginning of each mentorship experience because the relationship(s) must be consistently nurtured and periodically refreshed. This responsibility often falls on the recipient. In reflection, this onus of responsibility and sense of ensuring value for the mentor without knowing how best to carry it out in the relationship was uncomfortable and perplexing.

In other words, we have the whole thing backwards. Instead of the mentee seeking out a mentor. We should have mentors ready to work with willing mentees. If only this utopia could exist in healthcare.

Batar and Woolgar go on to document other challenges to mentorship in healthcare along with some supportive elements:

I would strongly encourage you to read the article prior to this week’s #hcldr chat, or listen to their podcast discussion of their findings.

Join us for the weekly #hcldr tweetchat on Tuesday May 16th at 8:30pm EDT (for your local time click here) when we will discuss the following mentorship related topics with special guests @AlexHarrisRN, @anthony_woolgar and @nadiaNB_:

  • T1 What makes a good mentor? Do you have an example from your past?
  • T2 As the workforce ages, how can senior health leaders engage their staff in mentorship opportunities?
  • T3 How can organizations embrace a mentorship culture to support developing leadership capacity?
  • T4 What do you think are true innovations in mentorship?

Guest Biographies

Alex Harris is a Registered Nurse and PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. She holds a combined Master of Nursing/Master of Health Administration and is a Junior Fellow at Massey College in Toronto. Alex co-founded Emerging Health Leaders Toronto and is an Editorial Board member for Healthcare Management Forum. Her current research explores intellectual capital (knowledge assets) and its influence on hospital performance.

Nadia Batara is a health professional with experience in various healthcare settings and organizations.  She completed her Master of Health Administration at the University of British Columbia and has received kind guidance and invaluable mentorship from seasoned leaders, which encourages Nadia to pay it forward through Emerging Health Leaders.

Tony Woolgar is a Partner and the Head of the National Healthcare Leadership Practice at Legacy Executive Search Partners in Toronto and was formerly one of the founding CEOs of the Local Health Integration networks in Ontario. Tony has a passion for optimizing the performance of individuals and teams to build successful organizations and careers and works with senior leadership teams, boards and individual leaders to achieve leadership excellence. Tony has also been involved in healthcare reform at the national level in the UK in the development of the Primary Care Strategy and was a member of the Government’s ‘2020 Foresight Panel for the NHS’.

Article Abstract – The mentorship imperative for health leadership

Mentorship plays an important role in supporting the career development of health leaders. An examination of mentorship programs in different organizational settings provides a frame of reference to discuss and explore personal and professional mentorship experiences. Specifically, between October 2015 and April 2016, the Emerging Health Leaders (EHL) National Health Leadership Conference (NHLC) working group collaborated on an environmental scan of mentorship programs and activities to understand innovations in mentorship. In April 2016, EHL Toronto developed a mentor feedback survey using the LEADS in a Caring Environment framework to capture the varied experiences of mentors engaged in EHL Toronto’s past mentorship events. A summary of this data presented at the 2016 NHLC situates a discussion on the highly interconnected and iterative nature of mentorship and leadership development in career progression. Mentorship is seen as a continuous journey of discovery, shared learning, and personal and professional development to achieve leadership excellence.


“The mentorship imperative for health leadership”, Nadia Batara and Tony Woolgar, Healthcare Management Forum, 7 April 2017,, accessed 12 May 2017

“HMF May 2017 Podcast: The mentorship imperative for health leadership”, Nadia Batara and Tony Woolgar, Healthcare Management Forum, 7 April 2017,, accessed 12 May 2017

“Mentoring Programs: Essential for Sustaining a Culture of Safety”, Brooke Schmidt, PSQH, 8 April 2013,, accessed 12 May 2017

“Mentorship is key ingredient for success in medicine”, Jackie Olive,, 31 January 2017,, accessed 12 May 2017

“The stories of my medical school mentors”, Greg Smith MD,, 19 May 2016,, accessed 12 May 2017

“Results of a Formal Mentorship Program for Internal Medicine Residents: Can We Facilitate Genuine Mentorship?”, Brian M Cohee MD et al, Postgraduate Medical Journal, March 2015,, accessed 12 May 2017

“The challenge of providing mentorship in primary care”, Sheona MacLeod, Postgraduate Medical Journal, May 2007,, accessed 12 May 2017

Image Credit

TED2014_RL_2R9B7980_1920_1920 – TED Conference,

One comment

  1. Nothing better than a good mentor to show you the right path.

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