Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Guest Post: Mentors

My mentors have been very important to me.

My first mentor was a Pediatric Metabolism specialist at the New England Medical Center in Boston. I met her shortly after I fell in love with Pediatrics, in my third year of Medical School. I was impressed with how she remained involved with her patients as she continued to manage their metabolic conditions into adulthood. These were patients she had diagnosed as young infants!

My second mentor was the program director at my Pediatric Residency program. In fact, I had ranked this program first because of my experience working with her in Pediatric Infectious Disease in my fourth year elective. When I became pregnant with my first son, she told me to take off as much time as I needed because I would learn more about child development by being a mother, than at any other time in my career!

My third mentor was my continuity clinic preceptor at the private Pediatric practice near my residency, twelve years ago...I joined this practice after finishing my residency and am still there today. My mentor, however, despite her clinical excellence and devotion to her career, left the practice of medicine five years ago after having her son due to the challenges of trying to balance her career with the needs of her family. Her husband is a surgeon.
One of the senior physicians at my practice continues to fill the role of mentor to me. When I have questions about psychiatric or developmental issues (this is his area of expertise), he has so much to offer me.

Recently, I have been able to act as a mentor to others through precepting and lecturing. And I have had the opportunity to give talks to school nurses from several school districts about food allergies in school, one of my interests.

As I think back, I realize I had mentors in my life well before my medical school career. There was my favorite English teacher in ninth grade, my undergraduate thesis advisor, and many other teachers throughout the years!

My father, a theoretical Statistician and University professor, was my first and most important mentor. He had so much faith in me, was always interested in what I had to say, and always knew I could achieve whatever I wanted to. This support from him made all the difference to me.

When my father died a year ago, I received many thoughtful notes from people I had known for many years. The most poignant letter, though, came from the first PhD student my father had mentored. He spoke of my father's love of teaching and how he had inspired and supported him in his own development. I was amazed to read this, I had not seen this side of my father. However, I realized only then that my father had supported my intellectual growth in this way as well.

-Pedimom, mother to 2 (ages 9 and 11)

4 comments:

  1. Wow, what a great idea for a blog! I could respond for hours. . .

    I am eating brunch Sunday with my pathology mentor from residency - I call her Dr. Styles, in my blog. She is an accomplished, well-known, and well-published GI pathologist. She is a perfectionist. She is a fellow chocolate lover. She used to keep me on my toes - now she accepts my consults and brunches with me every few months so we can exchange gossip, gifts (we are always catching up on birthdays and Christmas), advice, and stories. That's one of my mentors. And I count her as a very good friend. She is amazing!

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  2. Beautiful post, thanks. Our fathers --when alive and with an influence that endures even when long past-- mentor or mentored us to be good strong mothers in medicine. Even if, as in my case, he didn't live long enough to see me as a mother or as a medical school graduate.

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  3. I think you two just inspired me to write a long letter to my dad. Thanks.

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  4. Thank you for reading this! I read a long time ago that behind every strong, successful woman is a supportive and encouraging father...

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