Mentoring - Paying It Forward
Helping, guiding, advising, and sharing are some of the words that describe mentoring. This complex and multidimensional process with ancient roots has become especially popular over the past 25 years. Mentors engage their protégées in supportive relationships designed to improve awareness, avoid problems, and enrich experiences.
Orthopaedic surgeons have numerous opportunities to be a mentor. In the hospital, a more experienced surgeon may see that a colleague is struggling. This can range from clinical and technical challenges to more practical issues such as balancing family needs or maintaining personal fitness. The struggling surgeon may not be aware that he or she needs, nor feels comfortable asking for, mentorship. In these situations, offering to be a mentor is as simple as asking, “may I help you?” or sharing a personal story of similar adversity. To be successful, the mentor must listen carefully to understand the problems and the strengths of the protégée, and periodically reach out to him or her to stay in touch.
Mentoring also spans generations as we entice the best students into our specialty. Volunteering with relevant high school, college, and medical school organizations is an easy way to mentor. When our mentoring yields an improved “next generation” of orthopaedic surgeons, we win.
Milton L. (Chip) Routt, Jr., MD
Dr. Andrew R. Burgess Professor and Endowed Chair
University of Texas Houston McGovern Medical School
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