Meaningful Mentorship: From Career Satisfaction to Leadership Development and Beyond
Mentorship has a broad range of benefits including improved career satisfaction and enhanced leadership development. Three panelists highlighted the benefits of mentorship to both mentors and mentees and the elements needed for a successful mentoring relationship during the Early-Stage Anesthesiology Scholars session, “Making Mentorship Work,” held on Friday, March 18 at the IARS 2022 Annual Meeting. Shalini Shah, MD, Ashley M. Shilling, MD, and Edward R. Mariano, MD, MAS, FASA, delved into the many compelling aspects and angles of mentorship during this engaging and informative session.
Shalini Shah, MD the Vice-Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Enterprise Director of Pain Services at the University of California Irvine, launched this discussion with her presentation on “Mentorship Benefits to Mentees.” She explained that mentorship is a formal relationship that involves a transfer of information from mentor to mentee and vice versa. Participating in a mentorship relationship has numerous benefits to the mentee including increased self-confidence due to enhanced support, improved self-awareness of strengths and limitations, and enhanced ability to self-reflect.
She highlighted the mentor-match program, an exciting mentorship initiative through the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA) designed to improve the leadership and development of its members. To help understand mentee needs, a pre- and postsurvey was administered. The top themes that emerged for mentorship goals included career development, leadership and networking, although research and manuscript development were also highly rated. Mentees also placed high value on establishing work-life balance. Together, these findings highlight the value of mentorship that facilitates balance between the professional and personal along with furthering career development.
Next, Ashley M. Shilling, MD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Virginia Health System, presented on the “Qualities of Effective Mentors and Mentees.” The role of a mentor, as noted in the article, “Mentoring: Seven Roles and Some Specifics,” includes the seven distinct roles of teacher, sponsor, advisor, agent, role model, coach, and confidante. Within these roles, she explained that the most prominent one is that of role model, which involves the mentor striving to be the best in their arena and serve as someone to be emulated.
Features of successful mentor-mentee relationship (“Characteristics of Successful and Failed Mentorship Relationships: a Qualitative Study Across Two Academic Health Centers”) include shared values, clear expectations, and mutual respect. One way clear expectations can be set, Dr. Shilling explained, is through establishing goals. Characteristics of good mentees are identified in “A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research on The Meaning and Characteristics of Mentoring in Academic Medicine.” These include taking initiative, preparedness for meetings with mentors, performing self-reflection to identify areas of improvement, and passion for success in their careers. Through active engagement on behalf of the mentor and mentee, both sides can come together to build an effective relationship. As Dr. Shilling noted, “Your career needs many mentors, not just one.” In other words, keep searching for mentorship opportunities around you and remain open to opportunities for different mentors to build you up in complementary ways.
Finally, Edward R. Mariano, MD, MAS, FASA, Professor of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, presented on “Mentorship Benefits to Mentors.” He notes that some of the benefits to mentors include the satisfaction of furthering the career development of colleagues, renewing the mentor’s perspective on leadership, and developing competencies, enhancing the mentor’s growth. To effectively serve as a mentor, continued development of leadership skills is necessary and this can be facilitated through self-awareness, prioritizing mission above personal interests, and long-term planning for organizational success. Dr. Mariano clarified that leadership skills can extend beyond formal titles to include development of knowledge and skills in a particular area that can be passed on to mentees. Although mentorship should not be driven by personal gain, it is clear that it provides a valuable opportunity for personal satisfaction and growth.