The Value of a Mentor
Over the last several months, I have had the opportunity to speak to many individuals, including students, residents, and colleagues, about my journey in our specialty–all leading up to my current role as President of our Academy.
— Benjamin Franklin
Over the last several months, I have had the opportunity to speak to many individuals, including students, residents, and colleagues, about my journey in our specialty–all leading up to my current role as President of our Academy. The recollections have forced me to reflect on the value and importance of many individuals who served as mentors in my life and those who cared enough to reach out and offer me advice at just the right time. I saw the opportunities to mentor others at an early age and felt compelled to do so from the example set by my parents, who always unselfishly shared their guidance and advice with youth outside of our family. Although there were times as a medical student and resident (with limited life and professional experiences) when advice to those behind me might have been viewed as the blind leading the blind, the intentions were good and, overall, taken well and appreciated.
How do I choose a specialty? Where should I apply for residency? Should I do a fellowship, and if so, in what? What type of practice type do I want? How do I maintain the right work-life balance? Why is involvement in our Academy important?
All of these were questions that I found the answers to with the assistance of someone who helped me put things in perspective. Never underestimate the impact you can have on someone else who needs another perspective from someone with your professional and life experience. Sometimes sharing bumps in the road and challenges along the way that you have faced will encourage those who aspire to follow your path with a newfound knowledge and have a ripple effect that grows exponentially. I have found these types of interactions leave both myself and the individual with whom I have talked a sense of enlightenment, growth, and knowledge at the end of the day. This dynamic interaction/relationship that quenches the thirst for knowledge and information on one side and sustains the appreciation and willingness to give back and nurture someone else’s growth on the other side keeps us all connected in a positive way.
Whether you serve as a faculty attending, chief resident, or leader in our Academy, work with medical students, or have the chance to speak to undergraduate students pondering a future in medicine, take the time to share those lessons learned and experiences from your journey. We all have someone in our lives who helped us along the way. In spite of some of the daily frustrations that we may face with our current healthcare environment, recall those things about your practice and our specialty that still put a smile on your face or give you a sense of enjoyment and fulfillment, and share them with those who look to you as mentors.
“Whether it’s in your business, your school, your community, or your family, if you want to make a difference in the lives of the people you lead, you must be willing to walk alongside them, to lift and encourage them, to share moments of understanding with them, and to spend time with them, not just shout down at them from on high. Mentors build mentors. Leaders build leaders. When you look at it closely, it’s really one and the same thing.”
— Tony Dungy,
The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People & Teams That Win Consistently