Mentoring & Medical School

Learner Series:

Mentoring & Medical School

Table of Contents

Why is Mentoring Important?

Welcome to Project BreakThru, a site built around mentoring. Suffice to say, we have some pretty strong feelings about the role that mentoring plays.

But let's beg the question so we can explore the concept a bit. Flatly put, getting a mentor is the single most important thing you can do if you are interested in medical school and becoming a doctor. The reasons why - we'll go over in a moment. Below we'll go over some of history and current uses of mentoring, some research about mentoring, reasons why mentoring is important, how mentoring differs from a service, and how our BreakThru Network facilitates mentoring.

History & Use of Mentoring

Mentoring is at least as old as recorded history – and it’s probably significantly older then that too. In fact the term ‘mentor’ comes from the name of a character in Homer’s Odyssey. Although in the Odyssey that character doesn’t really display the characteristics we associate with mentoring. 

However, we can safely assume that mentoring goes back much further then that. Before written communication, especially mass communication, people needed a way to train and pass on knowledge. It was from this need that mentoring was truly born. We’ve made the training and education of young learners very standardized in order make sure everyone is learning at kind of the same level. This one of the reasons why everyone learns similar things through high school. Yet, the need for individual teaching still has value! Just take a look at how apprenticeships are thriving because people see the value in mentorship. 

Any health sciences student – including nursing students, medical students, and so on will go through many periods of mentorship. Accelerating in your third year of medical school, you’ll receive constant mentoring up to and through residency. You can say that despite all our advances in mass communication, medicine still thrives upon a backbone of mentoring. Thus, mentoring has survived to modern times and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.  

Research on Mentoring

In one of our favorite research studies “Does Mentoring Matter? A Multidisciplinary Meta-Analysis Comparing Mentored and Non-Mentored Individuals” the effects of mentoring are examined in different contexts. Specifically it looked at youth mentoring, academic mentoring, and workplace mentoring. 

The meta-analysis found that there was a wide variety of benefits that came from mentoring. The biggest benefits were seen in academic and workplace mentoring. The mentoring you can get here at BreakThru hits all three of these domains. 

After studying several different pieces of research on mentoring they found that mentoring was associated with improved career attitudes, work attitudes, and some career outcomes!


Why Mentoring is Important

So, we just talked about some research that points to mentoring being connected to good stuff like improved career attitudes, work attitudes, and career outcomes. This is all stuff you want when you are are trying to become a doctor. But let’s simplify things. Why do YOU need a pre-medical / pre-health major?

  • Getting Into Medical School is Hard.
    • Mentors can’t do the work for you, but they can help guide you. This guidance is critical as you’re doing the work to get into medical school. It’s going to be a hard and rocky road. Having someone trustworthy to turn to with questions can be a lifesaver.


  • Medical School Itself is Hard.
    • They say medical school is like drinking from a fire hose. That’s really how fast the information comes at you. You know what helps in a situation like that? Someone trusted who can give you perspective and tell you what information to prioritize. Again, they won’t do the work for you, but by supporting you and understanding what you’re going through, it does make the task easier.
  • It’s Easy to Make Costly Mistakes.
    • There’s so many mistakes and missteps you can make. Do poorly in a class? Take the wrong classes? Didn’t join the right clubs? Don’t have enough volunteering experiences? The list can go on and on.
    • Project BreakThru is an easy and inexpensive way to avoid those mistakes by embracing mentoring. Learn from our BreakThru Mentor’s mistakes so you don’t make them yourselves!

  • It’s Hard to Recover from Big Mistakes.
    • Go four years and only get a 3.0 average? Didn’t get involved in any clubs?  Didn’t take advantage of tutoring… Yeah. Avoid making these big mistakes. Get a mentor to help guide you from day one!

  • There’s A Lot of Bad Advice Out There.
    • If we had a nickel for every piece of bad advice… we could probably pay off everyone’s student loans. Seriously, though there’s a lot of bad advice. Most of this advice comes from people who are reporting their own personal story. One person’s personal experience doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone – and hence it turns into bad advice.

    • At Project BreakThru we strive to 1) Find you a mentor who has had similar experiences to you, and 2) Give you access to a wide variety of mentors on the site! Our mentors are tailoring their advice to help you, not just to report their experiences.

  • There Are Many Roads Into, Through, and Out of Medical School.
    • Everyone knows the classic path to medical school. Get a 4.0 GPA, do research, volunteering, be a club leader and you’re in! However, this path leaves a lot of variables open. What will you major in? What volunteering experiences will you do? You’re a club leader of what? You’ll run into many of the same questions in medical school. Having a mentor makes finding the answers to these questions both easier and more fulfilling.

    • Many of our mentors have taken unique routes into medical school. I think you’ll find that that their stories are similar to your present or future!

  • Experience Turns on Perspective.
    • Perspective is funny. It’s the way you see situations and you get it from your experiences, but you can also get it from listening to other people’s experiences.

    • Being mentored is a great way to obtain perspective. Perhaps one of the best ways. I’d even make the argument that perspective and experience were the original reasons for mentoring. 

Mentoring is NOT a Service

We’re going to close by talking about something really important – the difference between mentoring and a service. When you pay for a service you are getting something tangible in return. If you pay to have an essay reviewed, you are getting that review. If you paid for admissions consulting, they’ll do exactly that. 

Mentoring however is a mix of the tangible and intangible. You get tangible advice, but you also get something intangible – experience and perspective. It is this intangible benefit that makes mentoring so incredibly valuable. It’s also what makes it so that you shouldn’t treat it like a service. Treat mentoring like an growth experience, not like a service. 

Next Steps

Are you interested in more mentoring? Check out our services below and find yourself a Personal BreakThru Mentor!

Premium Membership

Unlock more content, more resources, and more mentoring by becoming a Premium BreakThru Member Today!

Personal Mentor

Want individual guidance? Apply today for six months of personal mentoring from a BreakThru Medical Student Mentor!

The Path to Medical School Can Feel Long And Unclear

But never forget that we’re here to help. Do you have a question about something you just read in our BreakThru Learner Series?

Use the BreakThru Feed to Ask and Inspire others with your questions. Our Medical Student Mentors are always here to help you, for free, anytime.

Where Mentoring Happens

Related Articles