SD: I think Peter is wise beyond his years, and I completely agree with his response. From a mentor’s perspective, it is important for us to realize that we have been practicing surgery in some cases for many decades, while our mentees are relatively new in the field. This requires patience and vigilance. We need to break any cycles of abuse we were exposed to and treat our mentees with the utmost professionalism, compassion, and empathy and not feel entitled by the trials and tribulations of our own difficult training experiences.
Explore This IssueJuly 2018
What is the most important aspect of a mentor–mentee relationship?
PV: To say that the mentor–mentee relationship is “friendly” is probably not the right word, but there is certainly a large amount of mutual respect. With large differences in age and career stage between mentor and mentee, the expectation is not that the two will be chummy with each other, but in an effective mentor/mentee relationship, the mentee should feel at ease and free to [express] his or her opinions without fear of judgment or retribution. I would consider personal and professional relationships at two ends of the spectrum: The personal interactions are all about non-work activities, the professional relationships are about the job and career, and the mentor/mentee relationship is probably somewhere in between (although skewed more toward the professional side in the beginning).
SD: I think the most important aspect for a healthy mentor–mentee relationship is for the mentor to realize that he or she is primarily performing an act of service that, in most cases, will not be reciprocally beneficial, but will be paid forward and will benefit our posterity. Mentors who are searching for apprentices or an immediate return on investment for their efforts are likely to grow disillusioned and abandon efforts in long-term mentoring and the tremendously valuable intrinsic rewards that come from such an act of service.
The most important aspect for a healthy mentor–mentee relationship is for the mentor to realize that he or she is primarily performing an act of service that, in most cases, will not be reciprocally beneficial, but will be paid forward and will benefit our posterity. —Subinoy Das, MD
How do you prioritize the various professional and personal demands in your life?
PV: With a new baby at home, in addition to interviewing for fellowship while maintaining my duties at a busy residency program, this has certainly been a moving target over the past few months. I am not sure there is one strategy that will work for everyone, but I think accepting that free time is a luxury to be managed with the utmost care, and setting discrete goals, is helpful. More than anything else, having responsibilities pull me in multiple directions has forced me to prioritize and cut out the non-essential activities that don’t add much value. Figuring out what my goals are has helped me to figure out which activities contribute toward and, more importantly, do not contribute toward achieving these goals.