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Public Health Epidemiology Conversations Podcast


Episode #49 Coaching and Mentoring in Public Health

People often use the terms interchangeably, but they are different. The goals of mentoring and coaching are essentially the same, to help the individual develop skills and achieve success. Mentoring and coaching work together to help you achieve success. However, the way that mentoring and coaching function are different. Understanding these differences will help you explore available resources, understand what resources are best for you, and may also help you as you network with other professionals. After listening to this episode, I encourage you to visit the home page ( and request a demo of all of the available resources offered on my website.

Episode Highlights

The differences between coaching and mentoring are:

  • Coaching often provides step-by-step or specific instructions, while mentoring usually describes more general steps and tips.

  • Career coaches require a fee for their service while mentoring is usually free of cost and offered by someone who wants to give back and help someone along.

  • Coaching focuses on skill building and tactical planning while mentoring focuses on work-life balance, self-confidence, and the influence of your personal life.

  • Episode 16, episode 38, episode 39, and episode 42 are great examples of mentoring from the podcast available to everyone, while enrollment in my program “Developing Your Public Health Career Strategy” is a coaching service offering help with individualized planning.

  • Podcasts, Facebook groups, and LinkedIn groups are great examples of mentoring and free resources.

Some tips to consider when determining if you need a coach or a mentor:

  • If you trying to seek the help of a mentor, do not try to pull out more than they are willing to give. If you need more assistance than they are willing to offer, then you may need to hire a coach. For example, a student might choose to hire a tutor (coach) because they need more help than the group study sessions (mentoring) provide.

  • Respect the limits of a mentor. They don’t owe you anything. Mentoring is something people choose to do. No one is required to mentor. So, please remember that in your approach.

  • Although your frustrations are real, try not to approach a mentor out of frustration.

  • Think creatively. You can meet face to face, over the phone, by email, or through social media.

  • Don’t overlook connections you already have, and look for mentors outside of public health for leadership or other skills you need to develop.

  • Don’t wait until you are stuck to get help. Be proactive in recognizing what you need and invest in that support.

The APHA has both free services and links to paid services through career coaches also. They make recommendations on when to seek a career coach that are similar to what I’ve discussed in this episode. Understanding the difference between what is provided through mentoring and what is provided through coaching will help you make the best decisions. Don’t remain stuck, if that is where you are now. Invest in yourself and get the help you need to move forward. Whenever possible, take action toward securing the help that you need to stay focused and supported early on, to prevent getting stuck or feeling frustrated.

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