At some point in your life, you benefited from a personal or professional mentor. You may not recognize their influence as mentorship, but if there was a critical person in your life that provided guidance at some point, that’s what they became. But if you’re in the healthcare profession, it’s critically important to seek out a mentor to help guide your career path. Whether you are a practicing clinician or currently studying, here are five reasons to connect with a professional mentor to further your healthcare career.
#1 Introduces new paths for learning
Today, you’ll find a variety of mentorship programs in hospitals around the country. That’s because mentoring benefits not only the new healthcare worker but also the seasoned professional and even the hospital itself. Medicine, as a science, is built upon the sharing of knowledge between generations and disciplines. Mentorship can help guide young professionals into the right career path and open new avenues for learning. Mentorship can also help an experienced clinician learn the latest tools and techniques in a field that is constantly evolving.
#2 Improves your communication and leadership skills
Our human soft skills (or lack of) can get us into hot water in a variety of ways. Having a trusted mentor to turn to who has experience facing what you’re struggling with will improve your leadership and communication skills. The healthcare profession is hard enough from a skills perspective. But there are also tricky waters to navigate around leadership and team building that your mentor may be able to help you with.
#3 Helps provide a resource pool for the clinical teams that follow you
Each one teaches one tool we use in the healthcare profession to spread knowledge. The mentor/mentee relationship uses this motto to pass along advice and tips about real-world scenarios not learned in medical school. Mentees are more likely to remember this valued relationship and then become mentors later on, and in this way, the cycle of learning can perpetuate.
#4 Builds strong connections
The concept of networking to build your career is alive and well in every industry, including healthcare. Mentorship is a process that builds stronger connections between people, whether the benefiter is the mentee or the mentor. Students can gain trusted role models while experienced professionals can gain a new understanding and perspective.
#5 Reduces burnout
Burnout is a real problem in the healthcare profession. While students coming into the field may yet to experience this, it’s important to note that mentorship shouldn’t stop after you leave school. Doctors benefit from having a professional colleague to share stories with. Nurses need a shoulder to cry on—especially during the global pandemic. Having a professional mentor can provide personal fulfillment, long-term bonds, more collaborative communications, and reduce burnout in the profession.
The National Kidney Foundation says, “Mentoring facilitates best clinical practices and professional growth for both the mentor and mentee.” While formal training in clinical practice provides a strong foundation, having a trusted advisor that has experienced healthcare on the ground helps new healthcare workers cope with their first year in the profession. But experienced clinicians can benefit from the valuable perspective that comes from a work colleague. It is for these reasons that mentorship in healthcare is both a necessary and desirable goal for individuals and organizations.