Author + information
- ∗Division of Cardiology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
- †Division of Cardiology, National Jewish Health, Denver, Colorado
- ↵∗Reprint requests and correspondence:
Dr. Andrew Freeman, National Jewish Health, 1400 Jackson Street, Denver, Colorado 80206.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
—Benjamin Franklin (1)
Mentoring is a time-proven strategy that can help young physicians and healthcare workers of all circumstances achieve their fullest potential. Although there is ample opportunity to seek the right mentors during formal cardiology training, much of the value of that relationship is often lost when we make the transition into practice in the “real world.” However, early career professionals (ECP) ranked the need for formal mentoring among the highest objectives as a reason to join the American College of Cardiology (ACC), based on surveys carried out by the ACC ECP section.
In our careers, the most beneficial forms of mentoring have been positive relationships with attending physicians that resulted in trustworthy, nurturing environments that have facilitated learning. Our most successful, long-lasting mentorships have begun with open expression of personal concerns about professional goals and aspirations.
As an example, one of the authors (G.V.S.) is a foreign medical graduate from India, who moved to the United States to pursue a career in medicine. Although being from another country presented unique challenges along the way, meeting mentors with similar backgrounds and circumstances contributed to her professional growth. Learning from a mentor's personal experience has not only helped shape her professional career, but also has provided tremendous insight, particularly in how to manage a work/life balance. Especially as a woman, there is a delicate balance between pursuing career goals and being a caregiver for a growing family. Following the career example of a female mentor from India has helped provide self-confidence and fostered a renewed faith in goals. Finding the right mentor is particularly critical for the success and advancement of those less likely to be included in senior and leadership roles, such as women and under-represented minorities.
As another example, the other author (A.M.F.) found that post-training mentorship helped him assume leadership roles at the ACC. While in training, the ACC can seem like a mesmerizing body, which pulls together the brightest cardiology minds together. However, it can seem foreign to the trainee. Therefore, having ACC leadership in a training program to help trainees get engaged with the College can be helpful. Once training is complete, direct and daily access to these individuals is oftentimes finished. We would recommend continuing to establish ties with other ACC leaders. Through consistent communication with such leaders, he has learned the ropes of chairing an ACC Council, while being involved with multiple scientific committees, which we credit to a post-training relationship with an ACC mentor.
We have found that a successful mentoring relationship is a synergistic relationship between the mentor and mentee in which both parties benefit. In the process of providing career guidance, encouragement, scope for research, and opportunities to make professional contacts, mentors make substantial contributions in recruiting promising young people to their area of expertise. Mentors are often able to see how their involvement and guidance can really make a difference in mentees’ lives beyond traditional training. Mentors make a tremendous contribution to the advancement of the field of cardiology by generously devoting their time to mentees from all walks of life.
Keeping these objectives in mind, our goal was to design a mentoring program based on strategies that are known to facilitate relationship building and personal empowerment and which draw on the richness of individuals working collaboratively. As part of the ECP section, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to work closely with a diverse group of cardiologists, professionals from Partners in Care, ACC, and industry staff collectively embarking on the idea of a comprehensive, global mentorship program. The ECP mentorship workgroup formed an advisory group that consisted of ACC staff, representatives from Partners in Care, members from the Women in Cardiology and the ACC’s Academic council, and its technical liaison Health-E-Careers. It met regularly to advocate for strong pro-mentoring efforts in both the public and private sectors and was largely responsible for drawing the basic framework of the mentorship program. The advisory group participated in inviting suitable mentors through public relations, communications, and partnership with other working groups within the ACC and other professional organizations. This experience has been particularly enriching for us, as we benefitted from the personal accounts of people from different specialties and expertise within the ACC.
The ECP section recognizes that any formal peer group mentoring relies on its longevity and success through the participation of the groups involved. Our hope is to compensate for the dearth of appropriately trained and willing senior mentors to provide several facets of mentorship through the ACC and ultimately achieve the “felt need” of our young, dynamic, and prosperous subgroup of ECP.
In light of the preceding discussion, the Early Career Professionals Council embarked on the development of a formal nationwide mentoring program as a top priority to meet the needs of young professionals (those within the first 7 years of completing fellowship training). The goal was ambitious: a system that was designed to meet the needs of the young professionals across the ACC’s practice environments—from mentoring in academic research and grant writing, to career development and advancement, securing and advancing in private practice, social and leadership development, and the development of clinician educators. The ultimate goal is to provide a well-functioning relationship between mentors and mentees that translates into an active, effective, and sustainable program within the ACC. The program needed to be inclusive of all types of practitioners and clinicians across the College. The mentorship program also needed to be able to match cardiology practitioners in highly select, niche fields to individuals outside of their own institutions in an effort to put like-minded individuals in close contact for synergistic career development.
Through committee meetings and live demonstrations, the College and its partner, Health-E-Careers, iteratively developed the program, web-based forms, and matching algorithms to develop a sustainable, widely applicable program capable of bringing members together in pursuit of growth and common interests. The next phase of the development of the program is to leverage the technology platform to help shepherd the mentor sessions and processes and facilitate meetings and feedback.
We need your help for the continued success of this program. We hope you can take advantage of this excellent and valuable program by signing up for a mentorship or a mentee position. Please visit http://www.cardiosource.org/mentoring (2–4).
Dr. Freeman has received modest speaking honoraria from Medtronic. Dr. Sharma has reported that she has no relationships relevant to the contents of this paper to disclose.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation
- ↵GoodReads. Benjamin Franklin quotes. Available at: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/21262-tell-me-and-i-forget-teach-me-and-i-may. Accessed September 15, 2014.
- ↵MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership. How to build a successful mentorship program using the elements of effective practice: a step by step tool kit for program managers. Available at: http://www.mentoring.org/downloads/mentoring_413.pdf. Accessed September 15, 2014.
- MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership. Tools for design and planning. Available at: http://www.mentoring.org/find_resources/tool_kit/design/. Accessed September 15, 2014.
- MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership. Tools to establish evaluation criteria and methods. Available at: http://www.mentoring.org/find_resources/tool_kit/eval/. Accessed September 15, 2014.