One-on-One Mentoring, year-long mentoring, peer mentoring, panel mentoring, speed mentoring, LEAD mentoring, informal mentoring. All of these are mentoring programs available to members through SGIM and ACLGIM programming as well as regional and national meetings. I have participated in all these offerings and found great value and satisfaction at both the mentor and mentee level.
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.”1 This principle and the ability to deliver or receive mentoring guidance is a significant strength of SGIM. A keyword search for “mentoring” on the SGIM homepage reveals 39 pages of prior meeting presentations, Forum articles, and interest groups, etc., demonstrating the importance of mentoring to SGIM members. Most members are willing to give their time and thoughts to a colleague or junior member when asked. SGIM members are easily approachable either through e-mail or discussion at a regional or national meeting. This aspect of SGIM was one of the most important elements to me as a resident and junior faculty as I could obtain guidance from those established in the field.
Mentoring relationships evolve as the needs of the mentee change over time. As the mentee advances in their career, new mentors with specific skill sets or shared experiences may be added, while relationships with other mentors advance. “To sustain our love of medicine we need to have mentors throughout our careers, not just when we’re in training. Likewise when we become mentors ourselves, we can continue to be mentored by others. .... Individuals need to find their own mentors. They need to see them in action whether at the bedside or in the OR or giving a lecture or teaching a seminar or reading something they’ve published. Something inside gets sparked.”2
A successful mentor-mentee relationship reflects a shared understanding of the roles and responsibilities for the mentor and mentee. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health offers a helpful and concise two-page summary on this topic as well as how to ask an individual to become your mentor.3 A common misconception in mentoring relationships is that mentors do not enjoy or benefit from this relationship. Dr. Wright’s article references this concept as “mentees tended to believe that their mentors received fewer benefits from project-based mentorship than they did, suggesting the need to highlight what mentors receive back from mentoring relationships.”4 One of the main reasons I volunteer to serve as a mentor is that mentoring forces me to self-reflect on my own career and how I handled situations in the past. Though offering advice to mentees revolves around the specifics for that mentee, it is shaped by the mentor’s past experiences and thoughts when guidance is offered.
In this issue of the SGIM Forum, Associate Editor Dr. Somnath Mookherjee and his co-authors offer two articles on mentoring. In the first article, Drs. Deshpande, Mookherjee, and team compare mentoring concepts in 2023 to a previous study on mentoring completed 20 years prior. They remind us that as much as things have changed, many opportunities remain to be tackled in the mentoring arena. In the second article, Drs. Wright, Mookherjee, and team describe how a novel paired mentoring concept around a specific project led to successes but also recognitions of how things can be done differently in the future. SGIM president Dr. Martha Gerrity highlights the efforts of the Health Policy Committee and her crusade to advocate for internal medicine. SGIM CEO Dr. Eric Bass and Board of Regional Leaders Chair Dr. Tom Radomski detail the unfolding of a long-standing effort to realign regions within SGIM’s organizational structure. SGIM Philanthropy Committee Chair Dr. Bill Tierney reminds us that running an organization like SGIM requires financial commitments. Current SGIM financial requirements (annual membership renewals and annual meeting registrations) cover the basics of what SGIM offers as an organization. As a forward thinking and moving organization, it is the new and innovative efforts that make SGIM special, and the expansion of these programs can be supported with a donation on “Giving Tuesday.” Drs. Gobao and Min offer perspective on the detrimental impacts of certain policies and processes on the health and wellbeing of the unhoused. Associate Editor Dr. Gaetan Sgro envisions an idealized future state of health care to meet society’s most pressing needs utilizing a future fictionalized narrative article. Finally, Dr. Alvarez Concejo and co-authors help us find purpose and joy in what we do by defining Ikigai: devotion to activities that bring joy and meaning to one’s life.
As busy internists, we all have a need for mentoring. This need can be a brain to help us formulate our thoughts, an ear to listen to our concerns, a mouth to provide wisdom and challenge us, a hand to support us when we feel unsteady or a foot to kick us into action when we need it most. But we must remember “the delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves”1. We all need mentors. We all need to be mentors. We all need SGIM.