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Find a Mentor
A good mentor is one of the most effective persuaders in choosing a field of study. The Society for Vascular Surgery® has organized a group of members who have volunteered to mentor and develop relationships with residents and students interested in a career in vascular surgery.
The following is an excerpt from the SVS Mentee Toolkit, 2017 Society for Vascular Surgery.
The word mentor was originally inspired by the character Mentor in Homer's Odyssey, though the actual mentor in the story was relatively ineffective, the goddess Athena takes on his appearance and guides young Telemachus, the mentee, in his time of difficulty. Today's definition of a mentor, per Merriam-Webster, is a trusted counselor or guide, and that of a mentee or protégé is one who is protected or trained or whose career is furthered by a person of experience, prominence, or influence.
This relationship is fundamentally beneficiary to the mentee, in the medical community, mentee's have consistently been shown to have higher salaries, more publications, higher academic ranks, and higher career satisfaction. However, the mentor also benefits, as the mentee's success reflecting well on the mentor as well as the personal fulfillment in helping another.
How do you benefit most from your role as the mentee?
As in any other partnership, the success of the relationship is based on equal contributions of partners, the mentee and mentor. Your role, as the mentee, is broken into three dimensions: personal, relational, and professional (Table 3). You should be honest, reliable, and courageous; you should always respect your mentor. You should be proactive; you should initiate meetings, identify your strengths, weaknesses, and career goals, and the purpose of the meeting. As the mentee, you should be able to take appropriate critiques and work to effect change in order to achieve your goals. You should have a true passion to succeed in your career.
What are your expectations from the mentor?
Similarly, the role of mentor is broken into three dimensions: personal, relational, and professional (Table 3). Your mentor should be altruistic, with the best interest of you, the mentee, always on the forefront of the relationship; they should be honest, open, trustworthy, and nonjudgmental. The relationship should be based on developing your strengths and achieving your goals, not the goals of your mentor. Also, given your mentor's seniority, they should offer their knowledge, learned with experience, and their influence, earned over time, to you.
What about the first meeting?
The first meeting should be relatively informal and casual. Your mentor should get to know you on both a professional and personal level; however, you should remember the ultimate goal of the relationship is for professional advancement. You should review your in-service/board scores, clinical evaluations, and curriculum vitae (CV) with your mentor. You should come to the meeting with a general idea of their own strengths, weaknesses, and goals (Table 5) and look toward your mentor to help you identify action plans for improvement of weaknesses and achievement of career goals.
The expectations of the relationship on both sides, the mentor and mentee, should be made clear at this meeting, as well as plans for a follow-up meeting and considerations for a long-term relationship.
Willing to learn
|Passion to succeed|
Adapted from: McKenna AM, Staus SE. Charting a professional course: A review of mentorship in medicine. J Am Coll Radiol. 8:109-112, 2011.
Table 5: Possible Mentee Goals
|Academic level||Potential goals|
|Medical Student||Build relationships|
Assistance and information about 0/5 vascular residencies
Personal statements/Curriculum Vitae
|General Surgery Resident||Build relationships|
Assistance and information about 5/2 vascular fellowships
Personal statements/Curriculum Vitae
|Vascular Surgery Fellows||Build relationships|
Assistance with career: Academic vs. Private practice
Research/Chapter writing opportunities
|Junior Faculty||Build relationships|
Recommenations for academic positions
Recommendations for society membership
Assistance with advancement in vascular societies
Research opportunities/assistance with grant applications
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