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Finding and Working with a Mentor

Finding and Working with a Mentor in Healthcare

Although your career is unique to you, the process of achieving results is not. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. That’s where having a mentor can make all the difference.

Having a seasoned clinician or administrator as a mentor is part of the equation. Ensuring a good fit and mutual interests and benefits is vital. Do your research and create a list of a few individuals you want to meet.

Start by finding someone with a similar set of strengths and accomplishments as your desired outcome. Take time in evaluating your options. Study them and make sure you understand their strengths and weaknesses. Tap into your friends and colleagues for ideas if you feel stuck.

Making the ask is not as difficult as you think. Don’t rush into the conversation and open with “Will you be my mentor?” but rather start with a less pressured interaction. Grab a quick cup of coffee and come prepared with questions but let the conversation flow naturally. Keep it less than an hour and respect his time. You will have a pretty good idea if there is synergy and whether she is open to being a mentor.

Follow up immediately after the meeting by email. Thank her for her time and share your interest in meeting again. You will have a clear idea of his interest based on the response.

Mentoring takes time. Don’t set unrealistic expectations. The relationship needs to grow and evolve organically. You can’t force a result. It doesn’t work that way and can ruin a blossoming mentorship opportunity.

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. A good mentor will impart wisdom and education, but also will test you. Be prepared to be called out on the carpet. Your ideas and limiting beliefs will be challenged. Keep an open mind, as it is critical for growth. Resist the temptation to be defensive or shut down. Constructive criticism is not a personal attack but rather a high-level informed opinion about your behavior as viewed by someone more experienced and wise.

Ask for feedback and be committed to taking action. Passive listening will not get you the results you seek. Getting results takes time and work – remain focused and commit to the process. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and test new ideas. Having an experienced mind as a guide can save you headaches and heartbreak.

Listen with an open mind. Mentorship is not a one-way relationship. You have value and can help your mentor as well. High achievers are also on a journey of personal and professional development. Sharing resources, books, and tools is a simple way to give back and share value.

Review your goals on a regular basis. Having clear and tangible outcomes will drive the process forward. Every situation is different, but the overall goal is not to turn into a clone of your mentor.

Having a mentor can make a massive difference in your career. You will be introduced to influential people outside your circle, rapidly gain knowledge, and accelerate professional development.

Data shows that young professionals who have mentors ultimately have higher career satisfaction, autonomy, and financial reward.

Don’t have a mentor? What are you waiting for?

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About Mitchel Schwindt, MD

Dr. Mitchel Schwindt is a board-certified emergency medicine physician who practices in a variety of clinical settings. He completed his residency at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As part of Michigan State University, Butterworth was renamed Spectrum Health, and is one of the busiest level 1 emergency and trauma centers in the United States. He served as chief resident his final year. While there he was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha, a prestigious medical honor society. He also devoted a significant amount of time working as a flight physician (helicopter) for an aeromedical company.

Dr. Schwindt has served on many committees and steering groups related to health care, quality and process improvement and was a former trauma program medical director. He serves as a volunteer physician for local sporting and martial arts events. He is a consultant and medical advisor to several dental groups and has developed protocols and policies related to medical issues in the dental practice.

Wellness and nutrition are a passionate interest for Dr. Schwindt. He writes extensively on the subject and has published several related books. He is a member of the A4M – The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and is currently pursing a functional and sports medicine fellowship.

In his free time, he enjoys competing in triathlons, skiing, water sports, time with family, foreign travel and pursuing entrepreneurial activities.