Tune in to the final episode of this season of the AGA podcast Small Talk, Big Topics, our podcast for early career GIs where we chat about big topics in the world of gastroenterology. In this episode, hosts Drs. Matthew Whitson and CS Tse continue the conversation on mentorship and mentee-ship. Listen to the transition between these roles and hear the best tips on doing this well from guests Drs. Brijen Shah and Lauren Nephew. Dr. Shah is an associate professor at Mount Sinai Health System in New York and has a career focused on patient safety, quality, and medical education from both an administrative and educational standpoint. Dr. Nephew is an assistant professor at Indiana University with 75% of her time focused on research. Despite the two very different career paths, both professionals offer similar thoughts on the topic of mentorship.
After a brief introduction from each guest, Matthew jumps right into the discussion on mentorship. Both guests share about the role mentorship played in their own career development and in getting them to where they are today. Lauren shares that an absence of early mentorship ultimately demonstrated the value of it later, and she experienced an immense growth in confidence once it became part of her life. She has been blessed with great mentors and sponsors along the way who shed light on the reality of jobs and the decisions she struggled to make.
Brijen discusses the confidence he gained in becoming a clinician leader by learning from both good and bad mentorship examples in his past. He reminds listeners that some people are only good at certain phases of development and that is okay.
Both guests touch on the characteristics they have sought to emulate and incorporate in their own processes. Lauren strives to establish the mentee’s skill set and understand what they expect to get from her — then she looks at how they can make those two things work together. Brijen talks about creating an “open slate” environment to help mentees get what they really want. He works with them to discover their passions and hopes to spark something exciting in their professional development. Both guests stress the importance of honesty from the mentee to build trust in the relationship and also to help the mentor understand how best to support them.
The conversation shifts as Matthew asks what makes the mentee relationship successful. Brijen says it’s taking time to learn about your mentees and keeping the relationship more personal, rather than transactional. The guests share what they would have done differently from their negative experiences. Lauren suggests recognizing the different touch points for each mentee — defining what the mentee needs to move the project along and recognize when a mentee needs more touchpoints. Brijen explains that effective and consistent communication skills are key to success, and empowering the mentee to ask questions and create an open dialogue is important.
What does the transition into becoming a mentor look like organically? Learn about “practice mentor” and the shifting balance between being a mentor and being a mentee. There is not just one mentor comprehensive for all your needs — it’s important to have different mentors for different parts of your career. They share about the skill sets needed for becoming a mentor and the lessons to be gleaned from adult development and coaching training. Effective listening and intentional questions help to facilitate mentees to find their own answers rather than making their mentor a mere advice-giver. Lauren shares about her desire to be intentional about the type of mentor she wanted to be and the expectations established upfront.
The conversation comes to a close as the guests share resources they suggest and advice they have for young faculty and trainees. They recommend checking out the Gastroenterology Mentoring, Education and Training (MET) Corner. Lauren encourages the listeners to actually use their mentors by developing a relationship of consistent contact with them. They share about the importance of having multiple projects going on simultaneously that will come to fruition at different times — Lauren says that years later, you will constantly have crops ready for “harvest” in every season.
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