Think back to the different mentors that have touched your life. Some of my mentors have been role models, professors, and even family members. One fact is clear, whether I am a mentor or a mentee, it is a rewarding experience.
Each major step in life often comes with new mentorships. In middle school, my band teacher believed in my ability to play several instruments. Then, a Spanish teacher encouraged me to become fluent. In high school a math professor instilled in me a passion for math. In medical school, my PM&R attendings Dr. Laura Kirksey and Dr. Danielle Powell enthusiastically mentored me in this field. Now in residency, I have my program director, assistant director, and program manager. Undeniably, these mentors have supported me while answering even the silliest of questions as well as helped me through my personal issues.
When I lost my first patient, my program director Dr. Eileen Donovan called me late at night to listen to my story. She offered words of encouragement and shared her experience. Moments such as these are so powerful. I wanted to be just like her.
As a mentor, I put myself in a mentee’s position. Understanding a mentee makes for a promising start. Even further, I try to realize what a mentee needs out of mentorship even when they may not know themselves. Having an open mind allows for relatable communication. Building trust takes time but creates a successful relationship.
The more I mentor medical students, the more I see common themes. There is often a third-year medical student who just discovered PM&R and now has no clue where to start. Many students don’t have a faculty member to go to for advice. And even if they do, they are scared to ask about reference letters or where to apply for residency. These students want to know if more can be done to further their application. This is why mentoring is so invaluable.
Students frequently struggle with not knowing where or who to turn to for research opportunities. As part of my role on the PHiT, I am helping develop a working database of research projects. This information will connect motivated students with PI’s who have projects available. If you have a project, please click here. There are many students without access to research that would love to join a team.
In addition, students are uncertain about away rotations, when this should happen, or how to find these opportunities. Many students also hope to start an interest group. Obviously, many of these questions can be found online, but personalized answers are what it’s all about.
Here are some tips for your mentorship journey:
- Be available – consider swapping cell phone numbers
- Listen more – this is the best way to help
- Ask for their immediate needs – “what can I help you with right now?”
- Check in occasionally – share a quick coffee
- Open the door to connections - pay it forward
- Review their resume – offer opportunities to improve their application