Pay It Forward Mentorship Program


Pay It Forward is a medical student-run mentorship program. The School of Medicine Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) and OASIS (Outreach, Advising, Support and Identity formation for Students) fund the program. The program aims to pair current medical students with undergraduate mentees from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds to create a more equitable workforce, increase cultural competence, and reduce health disparities. Members of the Pay It Forward Student Interest Group will determine matches as identified by their application profile, interests, specialty of medicine, etc. 

Our application cycle for this academic year is currently closed. Please check back in the Fall for the opening of our next cycle.

For additional mentorship opportunities and resources, please explore here: Mentorship Resources

Time Commitment: We ask for a 1-year commitment. Mentors and mentees will choose when and where to meet based on what works best for their schedules. Meetings can take place in person, coffee shops, via video (Skype, FaceTime, etc.,) and/or over the phone. It is desired that they meet often and preferably once a month.

Mentoring Meetings: The purpose of these meetings are to build and maintain a positive relationship while focusing on topics related to career and professional development in Medicine. Student mentors may also assist to disseminate insight, advice, information, and opportunities in the profession.

Training: Mentors and mentees will receive resources, information, and training opportunities to support the development of effective communication and professional development. 

Mentors: Current OHSU medical students who support diversity, equity and inclusion and are willing to mentor and guide diverse students along their journey of applying to medical school.

Mentees: Diverse undergraduate students pursuing a career in medicine will be paired with a current OHSU medical student through one or more academic years for guidance throughout medical school. Diverse individuals include, but not limited to:
o   Persons from racial or ethnic groups that are under-represented in medicine and biomedical sciences: (a) Black or African American, (b) Hispanic or Latino/a/e (individual of any gender identity originating from Mexico, Central or South America, or Caribbean cultures), (c) American Indian or Alaska Native, and (d) Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
o   Persons from rural environments, defined as the majority of childhood years in a frontier environment or rural town as specified by the Oregon Office of Rural Health (i.e., a town of less than or equal to 40,000 population and at least 10 miles from a community of that size or larger.)
o   Persons who have experienced significant disadvantage or adversity (i.e., a first-generation college graduate; a recipient of social service resources while in elementary or secondary school, enhanced education or other programs for diverse populations; or by experience of economic, cultural, educational or family adversity.)

We recommend that you discuss and clarify expectations in your mentoring relationships to maximize your time together and eliminate questions about the perceptions, views, and responses coming from mentees or mentors. By developing and agreeing upon expectations, you can minimize the chance of running into potential problems.

Clarify roles and responsibilities

  • Clarify in advance whether you are seeking a limited time commitment for a specific piece of advice or an ongoing relationship. A busy mentor may be willing to help you with a single situation but would otherwise not have time for an ongoing relationship.
  • Clarify the specific need or question for which you are seeking advice at initial contact. This helps both the mentor and the mentee determine the possibility of a mutual relationship.
  • Evaluate as soon as possible whether the fit will be good: how hard/easy it was to meet the mentor, the value of the mentor's feedback, and the ease of interaction.
  • Mentors should be realistic about what they can do for their mentees and should help the mentees understand what kinds of assistance they can expect.
  • Mentors should explore what mentees need and help them develop a productive balance between seeking help and taking on more responsibility as they move toward independence.
  • Clarify expectations regarding papers and other scholarly work. Determine authorship on key papers up front.

Set realistic goals and develop a plan

Mentors can help mentees develop a set of realistic goals and plans. You may want to consider creating a contract. 

  • Work together to develop an academic plan that includes short-term goals, long-term goals, and a time frame for reaching these goals.
  • Agree on a time to update progress.
  • Meet regularly to formally discuss the mentee's progress as well as any additional training and experiences needed to achieve the defined goals.
  • Agree to modify the academic plan if necessary.

Have realistic expectations.

  • Realize that a single mentor relationship probably will not satisfy all your needs over the course of your career, and that you need to build your own personal “coaching staff.”

Ask for specific advice and be receptive to input.

  • Consider the perspective others offer you, even if it is not what you want to hear.

Evaluate feedback and advice.

  • You don’t need to do everything your mentor says. Strategies and behaviors that work for your mentor may not work for you. Act on advice that fits for you.

Evaluate the relationship.

  • Is it difficult to contact the mentor? Does s/he cancel meetings at the last minute?

Take responsibility for the relationship.

  • If you want to have a mentor, be a mentor to others. Cultivate awareness of what you have to give back in a mentoring relationship. If possible, participate in learning opportunities and other mutually interesting functions with your mentor, even if this is a way just to keep in touch.

Keep in touch.

  • Be sure to communicate with your mentor. Give your mentor progress reports by email, try to see her or him at institutional events, or meet for coffee or lunch.

Be considerate.

  • Be prompt to meetings. If you need to reschedule, give your mentor plenty of advance notice (at least 24 hours). Recognize that your mentor is busy, and respect her or his time.

Be prepared.

  • Respect your mentor’s limited time and come to meetings prepared and organized. Agree on what work should be completed for review. Write down your list of questions.

Establish the nature of the relationship.

  • This needs to be done in conjunction with the mentor. Set specific goals for the relationship — What will you get out of it? How often do you want to meet?

Realize that relationships are dynamic.

  • Your relationship with your mentor may change over time, and be prepared to make changes or end the relationship if necessary.

Take advantage of opportunities to work with peers and senior colleagues.  

  • Don’t discount the value of peers in providing mentoring.

Maintain confidentiality.

  • Your mentoring relationship is a personal one. You need to establish with your mentor the degree to which this advice is kept confidential.

Express appreciation.  

  • Let your mentor know when s/he has helped you, and express appreciation for this guidance. Be aware of what you have to give back to the relationship.

Evaluate your skills and time.

  • Evaluate whether you are the right person for the role, in terms of both expertise and time. Also, keep in mind that while you cannot be everything to a mentee, it is likely that you will be able to perform a specific mentoring function.

Say no, if you want to say no.

  • If you are contacted and feel that you are NOT the best person, suggest someone else with expertise.

Be available.

  • Be as flexible as possible about being available to your mentees. Experiment with engaging in "mentoring conversations" one at a time.

Be curious.

  • Practice conscious listening to help mentees figure out what they want. Empower them in their own careers.

Be courteous.

  • Give sufficient notice before changing meetings. Respond to emails and telephone calls promptly.

Be in touch.

  • Try to keep in touch regularly, through emails or phone.

Be honest about the relationship.

  • Clarify your role and what the mentee expects of you. Clarify your own boundaries — psychologically and in your external world. Let your mentee know if you think the relationship needs to change, due to shifts in her needs, pressures on your time, etc.

Play a role in career advancement.

  • Talk about your mentee’s accomplishments within the institution, introduce them to others, and recommend them for new opportunities. Share the unwritten rules of the academic institution. Empower your mentees to choose roles that require them to demonstrate skills that are requisite for higher-level positions and responsibilities. Review where your mentees are in relation to promotion and tenure (e.g., scholarship, teaching, service).

Help establish goals.

  • What do you and your mentee hope to accomplish? Set up realistic timelines for project milestones.

Give feedback.

  • Offer comments that are specific and honest, and that address strengths and positive attributes as well as areas for improvement.

Uphold professional standards.

  • Establish a relationship of respect and trust. Provide consistency of presence and temperament. Appreciate and respect the difference.

Get your own personal "coaching staff" in place to support you.

  • Consider your own needs and "put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others."

Do you have a question? Please contact us at

PIF students 1.22.24 v3
Pay It Forward Student Interest Group Members

Top Row: Jason Agtarap, Rachel Reese, Sean Bowden, Mo Shea, Meredith Loy, Faris Fazal, Shannon Young
Middle row: Simon Grishkevich, Colin Eaton, Patrick Pham, Tova Kruss, Jamila Godil, Kisanet Habtegorgios
Bottom row: Johanna Wilson, Kristin Zebrowski
Team members not pictured: Emily Burney, Madison Cowles, Mallory De Campos, Ajit Elhance, Brin Gabo,
Celine Huynh, Minh Nguyen, Thalia Padilla, Carla Boyle, Julia Liu, Mattie Watts