The primary motivation to be a mentor was well understood by Homer as the natural human desire to share knowledge and experience. For some it might be the greatest joy helping a mentee to avoid specific pitfalls that may create barriers to their career development and witnessing their growth of professional thinking, creativity, and success—eventually becoming a friend and colleague. The best mentor is most likely able to recruit and keep colleagues of high caliber who help produce better research, papers, grant proposals, and health for the population.
For others coaching junior colleagues might be the best way to keep sharp professionally and stay on top of their field—not to mention the benefit of new perspectives, contacts and enthusiasm. Mentorship finally strengthens and develops the mentor's professional network itself.
Perhaps most importantly, the results of mentorship live after you, the mentor. They continue to contribute to research even after you have retired. And in a sense, mentorship offers the great chance of changing an institution or system by fixing problems that you experienced as you grew as an investigator.
Watch the seminar discussions on individual case scenarios in mentoring—Coming Soon!
Entering Mentoring: A Seminar to Train a New Generation of Scientists—Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching, Session 3, p. 41-48 Session 5, p. 67-69
Measuring the effectiveness of faculty mentoring relationships—Berk RA, Berg J, Mortimer R, Walton-Moss B, Yeo TP. Acad Med, 2005. 80 (1): p. 66-71.