How do I find a mentor?
An ideal approach
While there are many programs in place at UMMSM to provide students with structured mentoring and advising, some of the best mentor-mentee relationships often form serendipitously; day-to-day interactions can lead to a mutual respect, and valuable long-term relationships can follow. By being present and involved on campus, and inquisitive in your interactions with peers and faculty members, it is very likely that you will find someone interested enough in you to help guide you on your path to success. Your enthusiasm in your own pursuits may be the most critical factor; others will surely notice this and be happy to help you move forward.
Remember you already have several mentors and advisors
Sometimes students feel intimidated to reach out on their own. Don’t forget that here at Miller, there is an array of mentoring and advising programs outlined above that help facilitate this mentor-mentee pairing process. In fact, through the MS2-MS1 Peer Mentoring program, Academic Society Trainer Mentoring program, and Connecting With U faculty advising program, you already have 3 invaluable new relationships! If you haven’t already, take some time to think about what you can do to become more engaged with these mentors and advisors and make the most of these important learning opportunities.
What else can I do?
1. Shadow physicians. See their world, see if you appreciate what they do and enjoy being around their work environment. If so, go back a second time with curiosity and try to pick up whatever knowledge you can, whether clinical or general, as they progress through their daily responsibilities. Not all physicians feel they have the time to mentor, and that is ok. Many will feel proud to do their part in helping an enthusiastic and inquisitive medical student in the effort to follow in their footsteps. They love sharing their love for their specialties.
2. Get involved in a research project. If you are able to enjoy the subject of your research and meet the needs of your research team, you will have a very hard time not gaining valuable mentorship from those in that field.
3. Talk to your professors. There will surely be times when a particular lecturer will strike your interest. Whether it is fascination by the content, or merely an appreciation of the professor’s demeanor, take advantage of your status as a Miller Medical Student and talk to them! Again, as redundant as this may sound, quality mentoring depends primarily on the enthusiasm of the mentee. If you find yourself intrigued by a professor, your curiosity will surely be welcomed. Speak with them to learn more about their subject and perhaps more about their path to their current position; you may find yourself with another supporter interested in seeing you fulfill your goals.
It is our hope that you make the most of whatever mentoring relationships you form, whether formally or informally, as there is undoubtedly so much to be learned from those who have already walked your current path.
Often the only thing leading to a stale relationship is the failure to ask the right questions, or the failure to ask questions at all…
What type of questions should I ask?
“The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life” – Tony Robbins
Well, this depends on what stage you are at, who you are trying to learn from, and what you are aiming to learn. But here are some examples to consider:
To a junior or senior medical student
1. What worked well for you during 1st (or 2nd) year?
2. Is there anything you would have done differently?
3. If you had to pick 3 resources outside of our curriculum that you have found to be the most useful, what would they be?
4. What do you think your biggest improvement in studying has been since starting medical school?
5. Do you have a decent idea what field you want to go into? What were you able to do during your pre-clinical years to lead you in that direction?
6. Medical school can be taxing – what did you do stay to grounded and relieve stress? Do you feel that you were able to achieve a healthy balance, and if so how?
To a resident
1. How did you approach your clinical rotations, what worked well for you during these years?
2. What would you have done differently in medical school?
3. At what point did you know you wanted to enter the field you chose? What are 1-3 key factors that helped you decide that?
4. What were your most useful resources in gaining accurate information about the residency application and career selection process?
To a physician
1. What would you identify as your favorite part about your specialty?
What drew you towards this field during medical school?
2. What are some things you think deter some people from entering your specialty? How have you reconciled these things?
3. Why did you choose to go into medicine?
4. What do you think a medical student’s primary focus should be?
5. What do you think, if anything, medical students as a whole could improve on?
You may or may not find these specific questions to be useful. More important, however, is to realize how simple asking questions is, how much you could learn and how much time you could save by learning from those with expertise, and how for some reason or another we are hesitant to reach out to those who have the answers!
We obviously should be careful not to “spam” inboxes of people we do not quite know. With that said, there are a great deal of individuals on this campus who want to see you succeed contingent on your – you guessed it – enthusiasm in your pursuit of your medical degree. Align your focus on cultivating relationships early on during your time at Miller so that you do have people – mentors – to reach out to. From there, do not hesitate to ask questions and allow these valuable mentor relationships to help you advance your career.
-Sohil Desai, Class of 2021