PhD training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing relies heavily on a mentoring relationship between the PhD student and one or more members of the faculty who share a research interest (theory, method, population, or clinical phenomenon). Faculty mentors are responsible for meeting with the student to help develop an initial program plan and to provide advice about a wide variety of issues such as coursework, goals for independent study experiences, research group participation, career development, and student well-being. Upon admission, each student is assigned a primary faculty mentor who assumes responsibility for (1) assuring that a suitable program plan is developed, (2) signing any official School of Nursing or University documents, and (3) preparing the students’ annual progression review evaluation. These activities may be carried out in consultation with one or more co-mentors assigned by the school upon admission or recruited by the student during the course of his/her program.
Both the mentor and PhD student will have expectations of each other, and it is important to try to assure that there is a shared understanding of those expectations. Some faculty and students prefer to have explicit conversations about what each will do in the course of an academic year and put those shared understandings in a written document. The SoN has prepared a mentoring agreement that you may choose to use or you may want to develop your own document. Having the written agreement can provide a sense of security, but simply having regular conversations about expectations will contribute to a more productive and fruitful mentoring relationship.