When she and I were working through the details of her recruitment package and a business plan, we intentionally created an opportunity for her to have protected time and receive funding to complete a Master’s in healthcare quality and patient safety at Northwestern University. I believe in not only identifying strengths of the mentee, but also creating opportunities to enhance skill, confidence, and application. She has utilized her acquired knowledge and expertise to implement the Surgeon of the Week program in the division, where a dedicated, rotating physician manages the inpatient service and consultations in lieu of outpatient responsibilities. Measured quality metrics from her work demonstrated a significantly reduced time to tracheostomy while maintaining physician productivity and improving physician quality of life. She has also converted all of her process improvement and quality work into scholarly activity and publications. Her ability to do this will be a model for her and other adaptors of integrating PI and QI work into practice in building an academic name and career.
Explore This IssueJuly 2018
What is the most important aspect of your mentor–mentee relationship?
JL: I would say the most important aspects of my mentor–mentee relationship are an open dialogue and Dana’s ability to recognize my strengths—sometimes before I do. When I started at Lurie, Dana highlighted these strengths and took the time to connect me with everyone I needed to meet to further my goals both clinically and in my role in healthcare quality and patient safety. In talking to young faculty in other departments, [I’ve learned that] this is not something that is universally done, so I’m very thankful. An open dialogue has allowed me to bounce ideas off of her, “mature them,” and then implement them with results that have had a positive impact not only on the division, but also on the entire hospital.
While other professional interactions have helped me reach some of these achievements, the focus in these other relationships has been on the achievement alone and didn’t include a focus on my professional growth.
DT: In general, a mentor–mentee relationship works best for me when the mentee has internal awareness of his/her strengths, skills, and passion and is open to guidance as to how to grow in new directions. I am here to see opportunities and help connect the dots between the mentee, experiences, complementary people, and resources. It is particularly fun to do when your mentee has chosen to grow in an area in which I have little knowledge or a knowledge gap. The challenge for me then is to help that person find their way through self discovery, recognition of how they are growing in skill and knowledge beyond those they work with, and creating the opportunities to hone in on skill and inform the world of all the great work and discovery achieved. Jennifer fits the ideal mentee for me.
My version of success is going to be specific to me and includes, among other things, happiness. —Jennifer Lavin, MD
How do you prioritize the various professional and personal demands in your life?