Don’t limit yourself to your current institution. You might find that the mentors you are looking for are at other institutions. These opportunities are usually found through networking, either through local channels or through regional/national meetings. Although these kinds of mentorship relationships are more difficult to initiate and maintain, the opportunity to collaborate among members at various institutions can end up being more fruitful in the long term.
4) Meet and Greet: After assembling a short list of potential mentors, schedule a meeting with each of them. This may be cumbersome at first, but it is essential in finding out if this is someone you can see working with and learning from over the next few months or years. Finding this natural “fit” is what helps make for a lasting relationship.
At the same time, think of the meetings as interviews for a “position,” which is important to your future. This is the time for communicating your intentions, for making mutual expectations clear, and refining them further. Keep your professional goals in mind, as this will help in narrowing down your list.
5) One Size Does Not Fit All: As you consider potential mentors, keep in mind that it is OK to branch out. You might have many areas (research, education, quality improvement, work-life balance, leadership, clinical productivity, etc.) of interest that need mentoring. One mentor is unlikely to be able to meet all of your needs. This is where developing a core group of mentors could be helpful, each providing their unique insight.
Once you find a good mentor, remember to value their time and respect their expectations for you as a mentee. You are to be as committed to the partnership as you expect them to be. As you develop this mentorship, you will realize that it can become more than a professional relationship—it also can become a lasting alliance that strengthens with time. TH
Dr. LaBrin is an academic hospitalist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.