The Importance of Good Medical MentorshipApril 9, 2014
The increase of technology and its accompanying advances have raised the critical importance of mentoring across all fields. Nowhere is it more critical than in the medical and allied health fields. Opportunities for a future medical mentorship for students in premed, as well as the years learning and preparing for a career in medicine, is critical to long term success. We all remember a teacher who helped us prepare for something we knew little about. Through that mentoring relationship, we achieved success and remember how good we felt. The relationship can be short-term or long-term, or even a task specific mentor-mentee relationship. Having a good mentor you know and trust can be the difference between achieving success in medicine or failure in any medical field.
The Advantages of Seeking a Medical Mentor
The journey through college and then on to medical school is long and extremely difficult for even the best students. By having a medical mentor, the future healthcare professional can have a sounding board for all of the potential difficulties and choices that one might encounter along the road to becoming a practicing physician. In a mentor-mentee relationship, there is an opportunity for the mentor to share a wide range of medical stories that include both the successes and the mistakes that the growth of any medical professional is sure to endure. Building an honest relationship is important to the success of any medical mentorship, helping the mentee identify problems and then the solutions to academic and personal challenges, being supportive through the long road to career success. Mentors can also bring their associates, colleagues, and friends to help further your career. A medical mentor can provide recommendations for internships, residencies, and ultimately, job opportunities. A mentor can become a friend, a confidant, and a personal advocate for relevant advice and give the mentee confidence to continue to move forward.
The Right Mentor is the Right Fit
Finding a lawyer to be your mentor would not be your best choice if your goal is medical school, but a fine choice if your future career path is through law school. And even if you do pick a medical mentor and your chosen path is to become an orthopedic surgeon specializing in traumatic knee injuries, choosing an ENT specialist as your mentor may not be in yours or your mentor’s best interests. Find a medical mentor that is in a closely aligned field as the one in which you wish to follow. Look for people you can be comfortable with; without a true level of comfort, the full potential of the mentoring process is never realized. Look for a mentor that has both a broad and specialized knowledge base, the kindness to understand the difficulties of your medical journey, and most importantly, the time to help. A mentee also has a tremendous responsibility in the medical mentorship. You can offer the time and support to your medical mentor with research and lab projects, clinical procedures, acquiring grants or preparing materials for presentations. Remember a medical mentor is there to help you achieve your goals; they can’t achieve them for you. In a medical mentorship, the ultimate responsibility for your success is you.
The Growth of Women and Minorities in the Medical Field
Look at any statistical model, and one glaring fact is the lack of women and minorities entering the highest level of the medical field. And nowhere is the doctor-student mentor relationship more important than in these previously underserved populations in the medical field. A study funded by the National Research Council (NRC) found that women benefited more from the mentor relationship than men did. It was also found that female medical professionals that provided mentorship were rewarded by a 25% increase in the funding of grants; this is testimony to the importance of mentorship in the medical field for both parties.
For minorities where they are still breaking ground in the health and science fields, the problem is role models. These underserved groups may have difficulty finding mentors in the medical field whose experiences mirror their own. In searching the pool of potential medical mentors when a perfect match may not be available, reach out to another cultural group that may have had similar difficulties based on culture, if not experience. Ultimately, no matter the cultural, ethnic, or social-economic background of your mentor, it is vital that you share the same enthusiastic commitment to your academic goals and career aspirations.
Medical Mentors Work
As the old saying goes, “There is no such thing as a sure thing,” but there are ways to increase your chances. A medical mentor can turn fears into growth and trepidation into better perspective. They can support the medical mentorship by making the daunting prospect of college, medical school, internships, and beyond by making the endeavor more manageable with support from a medical professional that has driven this road before and can help you through the rough patches. Building a relationship with a mentor gives you the insight and understanding necessary to realize what could hold you back in your quest and how to avoid the potential pitfalls. For the mentor, it is a “win-win” situation; the medical professional has the chance to give back to the medical community through participation in a medical mentorship and also stay abreast of the latest technology and knowledge as a medical mentor. The best mentor can successfully mirror the competence, devotion, and professional integrity needed for success within the medical community. Adding more and better scholars to the medical and healthcare fields will only continue to attract bright and motivated minds to medicine, but increase the visibility of quality medical mentorship. For many mentors, seeing their mentees succeed is greater than any award, publication, or honorarium they will ever earn.
The field of medicine is not an isolated one; you will often work with others to provide care and treatments to your patients. You can begin learning to work in a professional manner by building and nurturing a mentor-mentee relationship. It will be one of the best decisions to help grow your medical career. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.