Mentorship in otolaryngology has historically happened spontaneously and organically during daily interactions between faculty and residents. However, the lack of a formal process for providing resident mentorship and support can have career-impacting limitations.
Explore This IssueSeptember 2021
For example, if an otolaryngology resident is taking a passive approach to their career planning or doesn’t feel comfortable engaging in active dialogue, some things may fall through the cracks. Further, residents may not appreciate the timing sensitivity and need for active engagement that’s necessary for career preparation, said Abtin Tabaee, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, faculty member at New York-Presbyterian Hospital (NYP), and co-director of the American Rhinologic Society residency mentorship program.
These programs are engaging new otolaryngology residents to help jump start their careers in the specialty.
New York Presbyterian Hospital
Now in its sixth year, the NYP residency mentorship program provides different experiences for the juniors and seniors, with the creation of a fresh agenda on a year-to-year basis. The philosophy is that junior house staff are still working through residency acclimation, learning how to be doctors and starting to explore career pathways. Dr. Tabaee described it as a hybrid program that includes group mentorship for the PGY1-3 classes, and one-to-one and resident-faculty pairings for the PGY4 and PGY5 classes.
The PGY1-3 mentorship experience is based on a group model with residency-wide meetings discussing important career topics in addition to PGY class dinners with different faculty members. Twice a year, a group meeting is organized to discuss a career-oriented nonclinical topic. Past topics have included managing stress and burnout, malpractice prevention, financial planning, managing complications, and coding and billing. Last year, a multidisciplinary seminar was held on microaggression in the workplace as it relates to gender and race. These programs are developed and led by the resident co-directors with faculty support. “Watching our residents embrace the leadership role in organizing and engaging these important discussions has been a proud accomplishment,” Dr. Tabaee said.
For the PGY4 and PGY5 classes, each resident selects a faculty member, often aligning with their career interest, for a one-on-one mentorship experience. The resident and faculty member meet three to four times over the course of the academic year, with specific agenda items for the meetings, including a general check-in about the resident’s well-being, residency issues they may be working through, and extended discussions regarding fellowship and career preparation.
Dr. Tabaee explained that, prior to the program, mentorship happened naturally over the course of the five years of training, with residents receiving meaningful career counseling and support from faculty. “It made sense to create a formal mentorship program to complement the rest of the residency experience,” he said. “Having regularly scheduled, organized mentorship events allows us to actively engage with all of our residents throughout each stage of their training.”