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3 Benefits Cardiothoracic Surgeons can Receive by Mentoring Medical Students

By Thomas Gole, DO, FAAFP27 Jan 2016

mentoring-medical-studentsMentoring medical students or residents can have significant advantages for the one being mentored, the mentor and even the patient.

Here are 3 reasons you should consider mentoring medical students or residents.

1. It’s a New Challenge

It’s no secret that as a surgeon, you like a challenge. Mentoring young surgeons requires you to look at a situation from a different perspective and it exposes you to teaching opportunities. Think of it this way: Mentoring a student gives you the opportunity to expose them to the surgical specialty—something they may not have considered during their studies. The opportunity to engage the student during a surgical procedure by allowing them to suture or staple an incision, for example, provides them with insight into the field they might not otherwise have received.

When you mentor a young surgeon, you are providing him or her with numerous personal and professional benefits and you are forming the next generation of surgical mentors.

2. It Helps the Mentee

Think back to the beginning of your career. Who made a significant impact on your career? Did you have a mentor who you think of or whose instruction and help you recall after a tough day in the OR? Chances are you did.

John L. Rombeau, et al. found “Most successful surgeons have had at least an association with an older, more experienced, successful surgeon. While one can argue whether this is an associative versus causative phenomenon, it is indisputable that something ‘happens’ in this relationship which, in turn, influences the career success of the younger surgeon.”

Another study revealed that, compared to their non-mentored colleagues, those with influential mentors spent more time conducting research, publishing more papers, were more frequent principal investigators on grants and provided more research mentorship to others.

3. It Benefits the Mentor

Mentoring medical students can provide you with a sense of gratification and even joy. The authors of Surgical Mentoring Building Tomorrow's Leaders ask, “What greater contribution can a surgeon make to his/her younger counterpart than to ‘plant the seed’ as to the importance of pursuing excellence, stimulating curiosity, asking the right questions, and mandating dedicated scholarship and ethical decision making in surgery?”

The assistance you get from your mentee also can help keep you sharp because you might have to defend your suggestions. And because the mentee may be aware of newer technologies or other surgical advances, you can stay current on the latest developments in your field.

Becoming a mentor allows you to take on a new challenge and shape the next generation of great surgeons. Are you ready?

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