Mentors can be extremely helpful for young physicians looking to grow in their careers, develop their strengths and improve upon their weaknesses. Unfortunately, not all mentors are created equal, and it can be challenging to identify an individual who is well suited to the task – which mainly includes a willingness to offer unbiased career advice and expertise.
“I think every clinician who moves from that last day in training to that first day in practice needs to go find a mentor, someone who’s actually been practicing for a living for a few years and understands the concept of making a living at the practice of medicine as opposed to training constantly,” said Dr. Miles Snowden, TeamHealth Chief Medical Officer. “I was fortunate enough to have a physician five or six years older than me who took me under their wing on day one and said, you can’t spend an hour in that exam room with that patient. You’ll never make a living that way. And those were the types of experiences and the types of advice that are invaluable.” Snowden added.
The first step to finding a mentor is self-reflection. Take some time to try to identify your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your goals for the mentorship relationship. Maybe you want to improve your patient interaction skills or you’re looking to take on a greater share of responsibility or a leadership role. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can begin looking for an individual who exemplifies those traits.“I would tell any young physician to find somebody who’s passionate about patient care,” suggests Dr. Sonya Pease, TeamHealth Chief Medical Officer, Anesthesia . “I don’t care if it’s another physician, a nurse, or a nursing leader. If you can find people that are passionate about patient care, that will teach you how to be a great physician, it’ll always remind you when you have a tough day how to go back and connect to your patients.
“It’s important to remember that your mentor can come from within your hospital or practice, or from outside it – as long as he or she understands your personal development goals and can offer guidance on how to reach them. But identifying that individual can take a little bit of searching, particularly if you are new to your position. Begin by observing the physicians around you, focusing on the ones who do their jobs well and appear to be respected or admired by their colleagues and peers. You want to make sure you align yourself with someone who reflects well upon you.