Importance of mentorship

On Thursday I had the pleasure of speaking at the HS-MACA Spring Mentoring Gathering at Creighton University. It got me thinking about how extremely important mentoring for our optimum professional and personal growth.

  • Mentorship is a critical component for professional growth and academic success.
  • Mentors have the ability to inspire confidence in others, push them to their limits, and help to develop them to their greatest potential.
  • Mentors are people who can see more in you than you see in yourself.
  • Mentors create a vision and development plan that takes advantage of your own strengths, abilities, and potential for growth.
  • Effective mentors will facilitate the development of independence, self- confidence, job satisfaction, and upward mobility in their mentee.

Characteristics of a good mentee:

  • Asks questions
  • Is willing to be mentored
  • Strives to give his/her best at all times
  • Accepts criticism graciously
  • Learns from mistakes
  • Has courage to try new things
  • Accepts responsibilities
  • Is open and honest
  • Is respectful and grateful
  • Listens, watches, learns, and grows

Characteristics of a good mentor:

  • Time commitment to mentoring
  • Personal qualities: enthusiasm, altruism, supportive, caring
  • Act as a career and life guide and listens to their mentee
  • Support personal/professional balance
  • Provides insight and constructive criticism
  • Facilitates introductions to key people
  • Leave a legacy of how to be a good mentor

Characteristics of successful mentoring relationships:

  • Reciprocity
  • Mutual Respect
  • Clear Expectations
  • Personal Connection
  •  Shared Values

Characteristics of failed mentoring relationships:

  • Poor Communication
  • Lack of Commitment
  • Personality Differences
  • Lack of Experience/Knowledge/Skills

Basically what am I saying: Medicine and life in general is not an individual sport. In order to succeed seek out individuals to mentor you. You may need different mentors for different areas of your life and career. Be a great mentee and remember to give back. You don’t have to “have arrived” to be a good mentor, you can mentor at any level.

As a 4th year general surgery resident I seriously considered a career in trauma surgery because of Dr. S. You see, Dr. S believe in me as a person, as a physician and as a surgeon. He pushed me to be better and he inspired me to be a better physician. He cared about residents, and cared enough to know about their families. He advocated for his patients and he genuinely cared. I wanted to be that kind of physician and surgeon. When I was having serious thoughts about not pursing transplant surgery, he guided me. When I needed someone to talk to as I was fresh in my grieving, he was always available. He took time to check on me as I was going through my divorce and always asked about my children. Knowing that my mother would not be able to witness my graduation as a surgeon, he wrote her a card telling her how proud he was of me and what a good doctor I was, a card my mother kept in her Bible by her bedside until he death! When you make the commitment to mentor someone, it ends up being a lifelong commitment. Each milestone I reach in my surgical career I update him and every now and then when I need someone to talk me off the ledge, he is the first person I call.



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