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Richard J. Bleicher, MD, FACS, and Salvatore Nardello, DO, discuss how to be a good mentor for fellows in oncology.
Richard J. Bleicher, MD, FACS, professor, Department of Surgical Oncology, Division of General Surgery, attending surgeon, leader, Breast Cancer Program, director, Breast Fellowship Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and Salvatore Nardello, DO, breast surgical oncologist, Melrose Wakefield Healthcare, Tufts Medical Center Community Care, discuss how to be a good mentor for fellows in oncology.
A good mentor should build upon mentees’ weaknesses and reinforce a mentee’s strengths, Bleicher says. Oftentimes, in surgical fellowships, the mentee is expected to develop a thick skin over the course of training; however, it is important to point out the mentee’s strengths and ensure they are supported. Fellows may come to their program directors with personal challenges, financial problems, and insecurities about their knowledge, so they should trust in their mentor as a confidant, colleague, and friend to help them grow professionally, Bleicher says.
Mentors help mentees grow with teaching, which should be second nature to mentors, but also strengthen the mentees as a whole person, Bleicher explains. Mentors should also have drive, patience, and a desire to help people. Being a fellowship program director is time consuming and difficult, so it is also important that the mentor has a well-developed knowledge base that they can easily share, Bleicher and Nardello conclude.