How To Find A Mentor

As part of my post on 5 powerful goals for pre med students, I recommended finding a mentor. Mentors can help you develop leadership ability, inspire you or help you become a better student. But how do you find a solid mentor?

Here are a few suggestions to help you brainstorm about where to look for a mentor and how to approach a potential mentor.

Where To Look For A Mentor

Your School Mentoring Program. This one is easy. Many schools have a mentoring program set up that will connect you with local professionals in fields you are interested in. At my college the mentoring program is affiliated with the school of business but they had no problem finding a doctor with tons of global health experience to be my mentor. Look into programs at your school.

Leadership positions. If you have participated in any leadership positions in college you most likely had an advisor or supervisor. If this is someone you look up to and have a positive relationship with they can make a great mentor.

Professors. Hopefully you have had some great professors in college. Why not ask one you respect to be a mentor?

Anyone else you look up to. An older fellow employee. Your family doctor. The only requirements are someone you respect and get along with well.

How To Approach A Potential Mentor

The first step is to consider what you´re looking to get out of a mentoring relationship. Are you looking to learn more about being a physician? Is there a particular area you´re looking to grow in? Do you have a personal goal and want someone to hold you accountable for it?

How you ask someone to be a mentor depends on the current relationship you have with them. Face to face interactions are always best. If you feel comfortable, set up a time to share some coffee or meet in their office. If not, an email will suffice. Either way, choose your words carefully.

Ideally you explain why you are looking for a mentor, what you are looking to get out of a mentoring relationship and why you are choosing this specific person. Keep it to the point.

Finally be sure not to corner someone into making a decision on the spot. Make it clear they have time to make a decision.

Here is a brief example of what you could say in an email or in person:

“I understand you are a very busy person but I have a request for you to think about. I highly respect you as a physician and see you as someone I could learn a lot from about medicine. Would you consider meeting once or a twice a month to talk about life in medicine?”

Final Thoughts

I know this may be hard to do. You have to put yourself out there and it may be awkward. If you ask and they say no, it may create some tension for a little while.

Just remember this: It is worth it.

A little time and effort now could result in a influential relationship for a long time. Go for it.

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5 Powerful Summer Goals For Pre Med Students

Congratulations on finishing the school year! Here are some simple yet powerful goals to work on during the summer.

    Relax
    While it’s natural to want to avoid boredom during the summer, being just as busy as during the school year defeats the purpose of a break. The summer between my sophomore and junior year of college I worked 20 hours a week and took a full year of Anatomy and Physiology. It was terrible. At the end of my Junior year I was burnt out. Do not do this. Find time to relax, read some good books, go on a vacation and give that brain a little well deserved rest.
    Get Medical Experience.
    Volunteer at a non-profit clinic, clean rooms in a hospital, shadow your family physician or try to find a job as an ER Scribe. The point is not to bolster your application but rather to better understand medicine and to be sure it is the right path for you.
    Find A Mentor.
    I wrote about this a while back. Mentors can challenge and inspire you. One mentor I met with has gone on over 30 medical mission trips (recently returning from Haiti). Talking with him always reminded me why I wanted to go into medicine. Take the summer to think about who might best mentor you and respectfully ask them.
    Read Medical Blogs.
    There are excellent physician and medical student blogs out there. It’s a great way to get an unfiltered perspective on medicine from the eyes of those actually practicing it. A few of my favorite are ER Stories, Vitum Medicinus, KevinMD, Med School Memoir, Agraphia and Jae Won Joh.
    Reflect.
    Take some time to think about the past school year. What study habits worked for you? Is there a subject that particularly interested you that you may want to do some research on? What were the highs and lows of the year?
    After reflecting on the past year, take some time to consider the coming school year. If you want to bump up your GPA, what grades will you have to get in your classes to meet your goal? If you’re going to take the MCAT, what is your ideal score? How can you simplify your life to reduce stress?

Working on these simple goals over the summer will help you have a great start to the next year. Do you have any other goals for the summer?

Find a mentor. Now.

Good will hunting

I just watched Good Will Hunting. What a great movie. Will Hunting is a troubled young genius in need of some direction in his life. Who to turn to in such a time of need? Robin Williams of course!

Maybe some of you can relate to the burden of superior brainpower and the subsequent need for guidance. Maybe you can’t read/memorize books in a few minutes like Will, but hey, you want to be a doctor so you must have something up there. Which brings to the best advice you’ll ever hear from me.
Continue reading Find a mentor. Now.