This article originally appeared on The Wealthy Physician Blog.
A mentor is an individual that has a single or multiple aspects of his or her life that you wish to emulate. This person provides a set of standards for himself or herself, as well as for you, to adhere to.
Throughout your life you should plan on finding multiple mentors to make sure you are getting the appropriate guidance in the different components of life that will ensure your success in school, work, family, and finance.
Here is a real life example of how mentorship helped shape my future when I was a medical student:
HOW HAVING A MENTOR IMPACTED MY CAREER PATH
As I entered my 4th year of medical school I setup my first rotation with a Neurologist. I really enjoyed neuroscience and had achieved the highest score on that course as a second year medical student so it was time to determine how serious I really was about pursuing a Neurology residency.
I am impressed on day one. I arrive at a world famous Spine Center. I meet the Neurologist who is to be my attending while on the rotation and within the first few minutes I describe how much I love Neurology.
However, not much later he informs me that although he practiced for several years as a Neurologist he actually ended up doing a second fellowship in a different field because he was no longer passionate about Neurology.
After we had spent some time getting to know each other he was very blunt and told me straight up, “You can do neurology, but you won’t be happy if you do.”
I was taken aback at first, but he would know, right? After all, he had the real life experience – a Neurology residency, two fellowships, and several years in a nationally renowned hospital – to know better than me.
He suggested that I check out Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation instead of Neurology and even had me work with a few of his colleagues during my rotation who practiced in that specialty.
I really appreciated his advice. His opinions and brutal honesty were extremely influential for me. In fact, I credit him with helping me make one of the most important and best decisions of my life. He became my first of many mentors.
Now I hope you see how critical it is to find mentors who can provide the necessary wisdom to help you make one of the toughest decisions in medical school, choosing your medical specialty.
Leaning on mentors who have more experience than you possibly ever could will help close the gap by the time you need to decide which residency specialty to apply for. This allows you to make a significantly more informed decision about your future, one that will ultimately dictate how happy you are in life.
HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT MENTOR FOR YOU?
There is not an exact science to finding a mentor but if you search in the right areas you’ll likely find someone willing to guide you through your medical school and beyond.
3 Tips for Finding Quality Mentors
- Ask your favorite Professor and your favorite Attending – these will surely be quality mentors and will be able to provide different types of guidance regarding your career
- Ask someone outside of medicine who you look up to – this could be a former colleague, family member, friend, or even someone you were referred to for advice on a particular subject
- Don’t be afraid to ask for mentorship – true mentors are always willing and able to provide insight to help you be successful
MENTORSHIP BEYOND MEDICAL SCHOOL
Life is challenging and in order to be successful it requires you find mentorship in all critical aspects of it. This includes additional quality family and financial mentoring in order to find meaning outside of your career and to manage your money the best way possible so you can provide for yourself and your family.