The other day, my hospital’s Medical Executive Committee was preparing for a looming visit from the Joint Commission. The nurse director of integrated quality services tossed some sample questions out to the physicians. She encouraged experienced committee members to supplement answers that the new committee members had volunteered. As a seasoned committee member, I found myself doing a lot of supplementing. I could imagine one day soon that the newer members would be the experienced ones supplementing the answers of their less-experienced colleagues.
Though you may not always recognize it, mentor-mentee relationships are active in medicine every day. Studies have shown that there are tangible benefits from such interactions. They enhance the wellbeing of both mentors and mentees. Mentor-mentee relationships should be formally acknowledged and embraced.
Some institutions assign a mentor to each new physician coming on staff. Other times, a senior partner mentors a junior partner, a tenured faculty member mentors a junior faculty member, or a seasoned labor nurse mentors a medical student. I want to encourage all those who are experienced in medicine to share their knowledge in some form.
Assure your younger colleagues that they will develop the gut sense of whether or not a baby will deliver safely vaginally and that their pulse will no longer race when they place an abdominal trocar or pop through a tight internal os. Tell them that they will learn to sense when the bladder is in jeopardy or a postpartum hemorrhage is imminent. Know that the learners will one day be the teachers.
Hospitals should regularly match new physicians with senior staff members and work to satisfy the Joint Commission minimum of focused professional practice evaluation. Our next hospital-wide quality improvement project will be to encourage, endorse, or even mandate such partnerships.
I applaud ACOG for acknowledging the importance of mentoring with its Mentor Award. Additionally, attending ACOG meetings gives mentors a chance to share their knowledge and students a chance to learn. The next national ACOG meeting is the Annual Clinical Meeting in New Orleans, May 4–8. The next district meeting is the Annual District Meeting in Maui, HI, September 26–28.
Each of these meetings will be a unique experience. The ACM will be large and encompassing with a wide range of choices for learning. The ADM will be smaller with opportunities for education and mentoring in more personal settings. I’m sure that both meetings will satisfy students and allow mentors to share their knowledge. Make an effort to attend, and your physician wellness will be enhanced.