What qualities should young GI physicians look for in a mentor?

Whether a physician young gastroenterologists meet in fellowship training or early on in their careers, a mentor can have a profound impact on a career path. Two gastroenterologists share what they believe to be some of the most important qualities in a GI mentor.

Ask a Gastroenterologist is a weekly series of questions posed to GI physicians around the country on business and clinical issues affecting the field of gastroenterology. We invite all gastroenterologists to submit responses.

Next week's question: What advice do you have for private practice gastroenterologists who are transitioning to employment?

Please submit responses to Carrie Pallardy at cpallardy@beckershealthcare.com by Wednesday, April 29, at 5 p.m. CST.

Mazen Alsatie, MD, St. Vincent Medical Group (Indianapolis): As a young gastroenterologist, you will find the tradition of having someone to support you with his or her wisdom and experience to be very rewarding on a short- term, as well as long-term, basis.

When looking for a mentor, ask yourself what are the characteristics that you want to find in a mentor, look around you and ask successful colleagues about the reason for their success and what impacted their careers early on. You will find that you may need more than one mentor.

Here are things to consider:

1. Look for the mentor who not only has a vast share of experience, but also who can articulate it to you in words, telling why he or she made certain career choices and how they overcame obstacles.

2. Look for a mentor who articulates to you in depth their successful procedural skills and shares with you their experience with complications. The conversation should go much deeper than what is in the textbook. I remember one of my mentors describing to me how many physicians get so comfortable with procedures and forget that a complication can happen, to the point we may become less vigilant or careful during procedures. This conversation taught me to never let my guard down during procedures - no matter how easy and straight forward the procedure may seem to be.

Larry Good, MD, FACG, founder, CEO Good Pharmaceutical Development, CEO, Compassionate Care Center of New York: The most valuable qualities in a mentor are flexibility and vision. My mentors from medical school and fellowship were individuals who could see gastroenterology and body imaging evolving and helped me to develop the capacity to evolve, adapt and adopt to new trends and advances. That ability has allowed me to stay current and relevant nearly four decades after completing my fellowship. The ability to critically evaluate new drugs, procedures and changes in our understanding of pathophysiology and treatment paradigm are the secret to a long and successful career.
More articles on gastroenterology:
7 gastroenterologists share the secret to a health work-life balance
3 GI physicians making headlines – May 8, 2015
GI physician leader to know: Dr. Edward Loftus of Mayo Clinic


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