Exploring Mentorship Discussion

One of the key roles that medical students, residents, and faculty play is that of mentor and teacher for others – and to appreciate the position of role model and encourager of others.  Chapter members share thoughts on their personal, significant mentors and on their ideas about ideal mentoring, including:

Mentoring is leading by example, guiding others with one’s experience and knowledge to facilitate the growth and development of the mentees.

Mentors need patience- a willingness to be open to the frustrations of the growth of an individual whose plans are not the rigid structure you have laid out for them.  To continue to guide and support so the course each individual must chart for themselves remains unfettered.

A mentor is someone who shares their own experiences- successes and failures, positive decisions and regrets- in helping someone to think about their own path and decisions.

Mentoring means being a role model in behaviors and attitudes for the future generation of physicians.

Important elements to mentorship:

  1. Constant/lifetime
  2. takes energy/sacrifice
  3. a great mentor inspires/motivates

Chapman society mentors:

When I began medical school, balancing my career, family, and friends was always important. I grew up with a stay at home mother who was very involved in mine and my siblings’ lives, and the thought of not having time to spend with my own family was a constant concern. Coming from a family of non-medical professionals, many people warned me that doctors do not have time to be mothers and wives. The strong female mentors I have met during my time in medical at UF have disproven this statement.

Throughout my four years of medical school I’ve developed a close relationship with Dr. Maureen Novak. She has directly mentored me on career decisions, residency, and matters of medicine.  However and perhaps more importantly, she has mentored me on matters of life just through her own actions.

Dr. Novak never ceases to amaze me with her balance in life. She is an amazing physician, who is patient with her often challenging adolescent patients. Her abilities as an educator shine when she listens in on pediatric morning report and fuels the discussion with her di-verse knowledge base. As an Associate Dean in the medical school, she is a vital student advocate who is always fighting for the students’ interests. She is also the faculty advisor for our Pediatric Interest Group, which served as a huge catalyst in my involvement in pediatrics. During my second year of medical school I also had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic with Dr. Novak on a medical mission trip. She helped me learn how to practice medicine with little to no resources in our meager facilities. Through my observations of her interactions with her son during this trip, I know without a doubt she is also a fantastic mother. While performing all her super-woman duties, she even manages to stay healthy by riding her bike to work!

Beyond all these attributes, Dr. Novak is humanistic in every sense of the word. During fourth year of medical school I was battling with some personal issues, and she was the faculty member I felt most confiding in. Not only did she help me work through scheduling issues, she comforted me as a family member or close friend would when I needed it the most. I hope that one day I can reach half the balance Dr. Novak has achieved in her life!
~Kristina Betters, class of 2011

I think a mentor who made a huge difference in how I view the world was my third, fifth, sixth and seventh grade teacher- yes, she was my teacher all those years. She would have taught us in fourth grade but she took time off to have a baby. She was my teacher in an open classroom setting- many ages together in a classroom with a number of assistant teachers. She was unquestionably the head teacher, larger than life, fearless, she took a class of city kids (60 of us) who came from a variety of backgrounds and parts of Philadelphia, and somehow caused us to get along, to understand and enjoy one another and to lose our own fears. She always felt she could teach us the academics we needed to know in a few months and then had the rest of the year to teach us how to live. And she did, creating an atmosphere that was first and foremost full of love. I will always remember a poem a student teacher wrote upon leaving us in which he mentioned each of us by name and predominant character trait- I was the prankster. Of Mrs. Rogers he wrote: ―…And Eric the Red, there is no heart that’s warmer, unless it is Marcia, the bear of 19, my friend and my teacher, the best that I’ve seen. My friends from those years still get together to talk about her and how she touched each of us so powerfully we would never forget her. And I think I have become a braver and risk taking person because of her training!
~Nina Stoyan-Rosenzweig

I am my mother’s daughter. Because of her quiet sacrifices, I was able to pursue every opportunity presented to me. Because of her unshakable strength, I knew that there were no preset paths, and that a woman’s role is precisely what she determines it to be. Because of her unreserved love, I know that I will always have a home wherever she is. She has made me who I am, and the industrious, humble, benevolent example she sets will continue to guide me in my personal life and my professional career. I am so thankful for her.
~Dr. Lindsay Malloch, class of 2009

―Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we are moved toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.‖-Karl Menninger This quote is a moving representation of what I have learned from my mother; to be acknowledged as a good listener, fostering meaningful relationships. I was taught from childhood how to acknowledge difficulty through caring for my single mother, a Type I diabetic. Watching her strength, determination, and unrelenting positive attitude made me the person I am today. She was also diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. It has been rewarding for me to be able to share my understanding of this disease with her and listen to her heart speak. I am driven, on a personal level, to achieve my goals of becoming a hematologist-oncologist. Being raised with warmth, compassion, acceptance, and honesty, I have been taught to respect all people and appreciate the beauty of diversity. I thank my mother for these gifts.
~Dr. Ilicia Shugarman, Class of 2009

Ever since I can remember my mom has always been leading me toward a career in medicine. From her Southern home remedies (like, ―Put honey on that cut so it doesn’t get infected! ‖ or, ―Eat more grapefruit so you don’t catch a cold! ‖) to sneaking fruits, veggies, and wheat germ into anything I ate (―Mom, why can’t we have normal cookies for once? ‖), health has always been a big part of our life, and so has helping others. My mom was always the first to volunteer to help with clothing drives, cleaning up litter at the beach, or walk-a-thons for the hungry, even though she was a single mom who at times had to work two jobs at once. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I realize how big of a sacrifice she made for my siblings and me, and I realize every day what a great role model she has been. From her tell-it-like-it-is attitude (―Ana, get a job that pays well.‖) to her complete dedication to helping those in need, I know I can always count on her mentorship to guide me through any of life’s hurdles.
~Dr. Ana Turner, Class of 2010

My mentor is my cousin, Dr. Debra Stulberg, who is a family practitioner. Debbie, as she is affectionately known in the family, is a dedicated clinician, teacher and a patient advocate to the highest degree. Her drive to provide reproductive health options has allowed her to lead national organizations and create organizations to fill in any gaps she encounters. When faced with adversity, she addresses it head on and brings together a diverse group to overcome what many would see as major obstacles. Her drive to work for her patients and bring change on a community, state and national level has inspired me and showed me how much one physician is capable of doing. Personally, she has been my cheerleader throughout medical school and been a fabulous support when it was needed most. To me, a mentor is someone who exemplifies admirable characteristics and instills in you the realization and support that you can be a similar kind of individual. By working with others, leading with example and following individuals like Debbie who make me excited about being a physician, I hope I can inspire others to be their patient’s advocate.
~Karen Halpert, class of 2011

As I reflected on my mentors, I was struck with how fortunate I have been to receive guidance from so many wonderful people. However, two people stand out due to the impact they have had and continue to have on my life. I am extremely blessed to have such amazing parents. They have molded me into the young man I am today. Although they emphasized the importance of scholarship and involvement in extracurricular pursuits, I always knew what they valued most highly – love and respect for our fellow man. Being a compassionate, kind person was of greatest significance – without this, any accomplishments or awards would be meaningless. It was important that I treated everyone I met with respect and kindness; a warm smile can be the best medicine. The stories that my parents would repeat again and again to me had this ideal paramount. For instance, my mother would tell me about my great-grandfather who was a scientist in Austria. Although one could claim there are many things that could be considered his defining achievement, it was his heart that most impressed my mother. As anti-Semitic sentiment spread rampant over the lands of the Third Reich, my great-grandfather – a quiet, peaceful man – refused to participate in the hate and discrimination. He remained close friends with several Jewish families in his apartment building throughout the horror of the war. At the end of the war, these friends remained safe in his apartment building. When the Soviets marched through Vienna and demanded that all of the non-Jewish men in his building begin performing manual labor in the streets, his Jewish friends intervened. My great-grandfather was very frail at this point and his friends insisted to the Soviets that he should be spared because he always treated them with the utmost kindness and respect. The benevolence and respect he showed them was reciprocated in kind and essentially saved his life. My father would preach to me this basic principle – regardless of any current popular opinion, stay true to your core values and your heart. As I struggled through the treacherous developmental period that we know as middle school, he would tell me that it’s ok to be a zebra in a field of horses. You may stand out now, but you’ll be appreciated in the long run for keeping true to yourself and maintaining ―your stripes.‖ I consider my greatest strength to be my compassion for others and I will be eternally grateful to my parents for the impact they have and continue to make upon my heart.
~Paul O’Rourke, class of 2011

One of the joys of being a medical student at UF is getting to interact with Dr. Novak for all four years. She wears so many hats that I sometimes have trouble keeping up with which one she is wearing! In her role as clinician educator, she is an amazing teacher and pushes her students because she knows they are capable. In the preclinical years, she was my Ethics small group instructor and would always keep the conversation interesting. One of Dr. Novak’s long time patients made an appearance in one of our sessions, and one could easily tell how fond the patient was of her pediatrician and how strong their communication must have been over the years. As an international physician, she has gone on medical mission trips to Central America with UF COM. She is truly an advocate in every respect—for her patients, students, housestaff, colleagues, and fellow Gainesville citizens. Yet with all of her responsibilities, she still makes time for family, friends, fun, and fitness!
~Liz Greene, class of 2011

Since childhood, I have been influenced by a number of physicians. Yet, my greatest influence as a soon to be physician‖ is someone who is not even in the medical field: my mother. Having grown up in a rural village in Egypt, my Mom defied the odds and became the first woman in her family to go to college, eventually receiving a law degree. This dedication to education is something that carried over to my upbringing. For as long as I can remember, my Mom has stressed that my education was her utmost goal. She sacrificed in hard times and worked tirelessly in good times to assure this future for me. Along the way, she has also taught me the values which are so important in medicine and life in general. She taught me integrity and honesty. She taught me to be a compassionate listener. She taught me to help those in need and instilled in me an awareness of life’s greater purpose. As I am now approaching the long-awaited conclusion to my formal education, I cannot express how thankful I am to her for all she has done for me. When I walk across the stage and finally accept my diploma, I know that that degree will belong at least as much to my Mom as it does to me because she has been the greatest influence in molding me into the person I am and will become.
~Hany Elmariah, class of 2011

Dr. Bender has been one of my most important mentors the last several years of my education. He has supported me since the inception of my desire to pursue medical school. Al-though he maintains a very busy schedule, he has always been available to give me advice and help motivate me to pursue my career goals. Dr. Bender was the first person to call me and congratulate me on my acceptance into UF medical school. He seemed genuinely as excited for me as I was for myself. Since then, he has constantly made himself available and maintained an open door policy for me throughout my medical education. Dr. Bender is a genuinely caring individual. Although he was out of town during the earthquake disaster in Haiti, he took the time to inquire about my family through e-mail and made himself available to help. My relationship with Dr. Bender reminds me of the importance of mentorship and reignites my desire to become a great mentor to students someday. I admire Dr. Bender’s compassionate nature and sincerity. He constantly inspires me to pursue excellence. I am incredibly grateful to have him as a mentor and hope that he will continue to mentor me throughout my life.
~Amelie Romelus, class of 2011

A mentor is someone who gives advice without bias but at the same time acknowledges his or her own preferences and beliefs. Who shares his experiences and can reflect upon his own failures and successes. Someone who is available and always makes time, no matter how busy he is. Who can serve as an example for how we should act in our own lives. And above all else, a mentor is encouraging and inspires us to not only dream lofty goals but helps us achieve them. My life has been inspired by so many different people, it is difficult to select any one individual. But I will always be thankful to Dr. Duff for the advice and encouragement he has given me throughout medical school. His compassion, patience, and dedication to teaching are well known and an example we can all aspire to. Yet just as importantly, I am always amazed by how understanding and encouraging he is to students. No matter the situation I approached him with, I found Dr. Duff to be one my biggest supporters, and I will always be grateful for his reassurance and ability to give me perspective on life when I have lost my own!
~Jonathan Hu, class of 2011

All my life, I’ve been blessed to have two wonderful mentors right under my nose: my parents. My father emulates the definition of integrity and has always encouraged me to do the same. In addition, he constantly shows me the importance of giving back to the community. He supports me in all my decisions while keeping me grounded. My mother has always been my number one fan. She made sure I knew from a young age that I could become whatever I dreamed of, without limits. Through her own sacrifices, she allowed me the opportunities and support I needed to become a physician.

During medical school, I came to the realization on how important mentorship really is. The first two years are tough emotionally and physically, and anyone will tell you that the quality of the second two years depends on the people you work with, not which specific rotation you are on. It is important to keep this in mind next year when we have medical students following us around. In my opinion, two important traits a mentor should have are to be a good listener and be a good role model. Dr. Duff has always been there for me, whether to lend an ear about career decisions or to treat a cough that won’t go away. He shows the utmost respect for his patients and patiently teaches us about medicine. UF COM is very lucky to have him.
~Genevieve Maass , class of 2011