Mentors act as guides as you navigate towards becoming a professional doctor in the future. But finding the right people to help you with this journey can be challenging. To make the most of this phase, here are ways to find mentors and what qualities you should be looking for.
You can take an assertive method and try going to your professor’s office during working hours, email researchers that are part of the program that you are interested in, or shadow a family physician. Set a face-to-face meeting so you can evaluate whether this person will be genuinely able to mentor you throughout your residency.
Being ‘friends’ with a practicing physician may not be sufficient. You should find mentors that you can be honest about your goals and needs. You can start by looking into strengths you’d like from a mentor and find mentors who possess these traits.
You will find that exceptional mentors are easy to get along with and he or she can easily share insights and ideas without feeling rushed. They are also responsive and make time to respond to your queries. Invest in time to find people who have these characteristics. Upon choosing a specialty and starting residency, mentors will guide you in this new chapter in your life.
Shadowing or doing volunteer work in a medical setting could help you find potential mentors. Be immersed in an environment where your chosen medical specialty is practiced. Take more responsibilities so they could get a chance to know you better. You can share your interest in their work and perhaps ask them out for lunch or coffee. Don’t expect too much since these in-house physicians live hectic schedules. Don’t be fazed by this and just continue to look for opportunities.
If ever you get in touch with a potential mentor, it’s not unlikely that they will give you assignments such as reading certain books or finish a literature search. The purpose of this is to assess your determination and work ethics. When this happens, be sure to do what they tell you and follow up with them in a timely manner.
If your potential mentor allocates a short time for your queries, be sure you’re ready with the right questions. Don’t ask questions that can be searched easily online. Ask about their journey as a medical student to a professional doctor. Get valuable insights as they divulge about the challenges and experiences they had as a student towards becoming a resident doctor. Moreover, prepare questions before you plan on volunteering or shadowing. Ask questions that could have something to do with your decisions or clarifying gray areas in the specialty you plan to practice.
After finding the right mentor, schedule a meeting with them. Write down all the possible questions and clarifications and send this to him or her one week in advance. This will give them time to think and sort out your concerns without meeting you unprepared. It also works to your advantage since you’ll be making the most out of the meeting.
Every mentor brings with them different strengths. Some mentors may have a rich network where you could get a residency spot in the hospital you’d like to work for. Other mentors may challenge the way you approach or think about your practice and specialty. It’s important to see the nuggets of wisdom these mentors offer and make the most out of it.
Avoid doing this. But be sure to report to them any results that came out from practicing what they advised or taught you. Genuine mentors find pleasure in knowing that what they taught you had a tremendous impact on your practice.
Mentors may have an agenda that may be conflicting with your values or professional goals. Being honest is a good way to know if this mentor-mentee relationship is sustainable. Speak honestly if there are certain pursuits that you lack passion following through as early as possible. If a project assigned does not interest you, talk to your mentor about it. There’s a possibility that you will be re-assigned to a more suitable project.
Having mentors is important to help you in your walk from medical school to residency. Along the way, several mentors may show up from the various interactions you’ll have in hospital settings and lecture halls. Forge bonds with your mentors, even the earlier ones, and get a lasting impact on your life.