As physicians, we try our best help those in need, and I personally feel a strong calling to do all I can for my students and trainees who are trying to establish successful and rewarding careers in medicine.
A few years back, I worked with a research fellow on several projects. She was the one of the most talented and dedicated trainees I have ever met. She initially hoped to apply for a residency in pediatrics, but after much introspection she finally “confessed” that she felt pathology was a better match. She was afraid that I might not support her in a different career choice. I wholeheartedly supported her, wrote her a very strong letter of recommendation, and personally contacted the Program Director to offer my support. She matched at her top choice program and I felt an immense sense of deep personal satisfaction. This, to me is the essence of “mentorship” in medicine – the drive and passion to devote ones’ time, effort, and influence to help our mentees succeed.
The mentor-mentee relationship can be difficult to navigate due to a number of factors including time pressures, lack of clarity of the goals of the relationship, and differences in personality, work style, and expectations. I would like to offer a few suggestions for those medical students, trainees, and young faculty searching for fruitful mentoring relationships:
- Interview potential mentors: Schedule a meeting with anyone you are considering as a mentor. As them about their background, personality style, what they are passionate about, and – often overlooked – their availability.
- Build a “panel” of mentors: Don’t restrict yourself to a single mentor! Look for inspiring mentors for career development, work-life integration, research, etc; this doesn’t necessarily need to be limited to those at your institution or even in medicine at all!
- Develop and communicate clear goals and objectives: Clearly ask if a potential mentor has the time and focus to serve as a mentor, and discuss two or three of the things you hope to get from AND contribute to the relationship.
- Schedule regular check-ins: Schedule regular meetings with your mentor. They don’t always have to be in person; phone or email check-ins every 2-3 months are helpful to keep each other updated of progress, challenges, and changes in goals/direction.
Mentorship is essential for career development, wellbeing, and success as physicians. It is never too early to start looking for your panel of mentors. They will be a source of support for many years to come. As a mentee keep in mind that your successes are a source of pride for your mentors, and your failures are something not to hide but to discuss and learn from together. Physicians should make a conscious effort to support and uplift each other, and a strong mentor-mentee relationship is one of the most fulfilling ways I can think of to do this!
By Dr. Ariela Marshall
Hematology Physician, Educator, Mentor
Dr. Ariela Marshall is a guest blogger for InCrowd this month. This is a part of a series of women in medicine sharing their experiences in the medical field. Check our blog for upcoming pieces and you can find our previous pieces here:
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