— MEDICAL SCHOOL —
University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine, Omaha
— GRADUATING CLASS —
When I first started medical school, I was confronted with so many emotions and worries—I was worried about everything. Would I make friends? Could I handle the curriculum? Would I find a specialty I loved?
During this transition time, I could not help but think about my undergraduate career and what helped me accomplish my goals then. I concluded that mentorship played a large part in my undergraduate success, and I was left wondering if I would be able to find a mentor and guidance in medical school.
I was able to find a mentor: she was the director of an extracurricular track I joined. This physician became my go-to for questions. I asked her about high-quality rotations, her career, and contacts for research projects. She even wrote a letter for my residency applications too. As I think back on my medical school career, I realize that a lot of the success I found and the excitement I experienced is, in part, due to her.
Research demonstrates that mentorship is important for increasing interest in academic medicine, increasing the numbers of underrepresented groups in medicine, and getting students involved in research (1,2). Formal mentorship programs exist for these reasons at all levels of medical training including medical school, residency, and beyond. Therefore, you will likely be provided with a formal mentor, but it's also possible to find a mentor naturally.
So how do you find mentors naturally? It can be hard, but there is no rush when you begin medical school. In fact, as you go through school, you will find yourself naturally drawn to residents, faculty, and attendings you want to learn from. When this happens, I encourage you to ask them if they have advice and what advice they would offer you based on your career goals.
If you are struggling to find a mentor, the following strategies can be helpful. Reach out to a professor who gave a lecture in an area of interest and ask if you can meet and talk about their career and your career ideas. E-mail someone in program leadership and ask for faculty members who would be willing to talk and discuss career goals and opportunities in the field. Attend local meetings, such as student ACP or Internal Medicine Interest Group meetings, to see if the faculty there are available to chat with you. The easiest method of them all is reaching out to a student ahead of you and seeing where and how they have found success with mentorship. Remember, even if you struggle, you will have many opportunities to work with faculty and find an organic mentor.
- Bhatnagar V, Diaz S, Bucur PA. The need for more mentorship in medical school. Cureus. 2020;12:e7984. [PMID: 32523840] doi:10.7759/cureus.7984
- Nimmons D, Giny S, Rosenthal J. Medical student mentoring programs: current insights. Adv Med Educ Pract. 2019;10:113-123. [PMID: 30881173] doi:10.2147/AMEP.S154974
Explore ACP's Mentoring Resource Library toaccess videos, checklists, tools, and resources developed to support mentees and mentors as they embark on mentoring relationships.