How did you get involved with NRMN?
I first learned about NRMN when I was doing a literature search on measures that I could
administer to fellows in a postdoctoral program I directed at my previous institution. I came
across publications by NRMN investigators on trial findings and measures they developed when
evaluating the efficacy of mentor training. Soon after becoming aware of NRMN, mentor
training was offered by my previous institution to a small group of faculty, and I participated.
Which of NRMN’s program(s) have you participated in?
I have taken mentor training and facilitator training and am enrolled as a virtual mentor.
Describe your role in the Mentor Training and Facilitator Training and tell us a little about your
experience in that role.
I took mentor training because I mentor fellows and junior faculty who conduct health services
research. I took facilitator training so that I could offer mentor training within my department
(Surgery) and the School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) at my institution, the University
of Wisconsin (UW). I co-facilitated mentee training for my department last fall and co-facilitated
mentor training for faculty from different departments within SMPH. This fall I will co-facilitate
mentor training again for the SMPH.
If someone called you and asked, “Why should I become involved with NRMN?” how would you
NRMN is an amazing resource for mentors and mentees. Virtual mentoring allows mentees to
select a mentor and obtain mentorship for a specified time period. The NRMN website has
great videos that coach virtual mentors and mentees on how to prepare for conversations. In
addition to virtual mentoring, mentors and mentees can participate in in-person mentor or mentee training, which has many benefits: it expands the professional network, provides
insight into tendencies and assumptions that enter into the mentoring relationship, and lets
people know that they are not alone with the challenges they experience.
How has your experience with NRMN changed the way you approach your career in the
I have created a mentoring compact that I now share with my mentees early in the relationship.
Previously I expected that issues would arise naturally during the course or a mentoring
relationship. However, using a compact to align expectations makes meetings with my mentees
more effective and efficient.
Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your
I was very excited the first time one of my mentees received an externally funded career
development award, which was funded on the first submission. It was exciting to see my
mentee have the opportunity to pursue her own funded research agenda and to receive
recognition for my mentoring capabilities and experience.
What makes you an ideal mentor?
I try to help my mentees discover their passion and what kind of career they want to have
instead of assuming that they want to have a career just like mine. I find that giving people the
freedom to discover and express their true interests – even if they decide they don’t want to do
research – fosters a more trusting relationship and helps me know how to focus my efforts as a
Each morning, what do you look most forward to in the day?
At work, I look forward to intellectual stimulation that comes from interacting with my
colleagues. At home, I look forward to talking to my 11-year old daughter about her day and
helping her navigate social and academic challenges.
Is there anything you’d like to share about yourself with a potential future mentee?
My mentoring philosophy is not to give you answers to your questions, but to give you the skills to discover your own answers.
What is your current position and what is your favorite aspect of it?
I have a joint position as a Professor in the Department of Surgery at the UW and a Research
Career Scientist at the Madison VA. At the UW I am also Director of the Institution for Clinical
and Translational Research KL2 program. These roles allow me to mentor people in different
ways, from more hands-on, apprentice-like approach with my own mentees to providing big-
picture advice to the KL2 scholars.
Anything else that you would like to share?
I have always said that there are a lot of smart, motivated people in the world, and the thing
that determines whether they succeed is the quality of the mentorship they receive.