“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” —William Arthur Ward
Kathryn Fraser, PhD
I honestly never imagined how rewarding it would be to help others who are starting out on their path as behavioral medicine faculty. In my own experience as a new behavioral science faculty member, I was sometimes ignored, criticized, and questioned straight to my face about my knowledge and my credibility. Fortunately, a series of very supportive program directors and fellow faculty helped me through some tough times and helped me find my voice. I often imagined what it might be like for new behavioral scientists who felt less than supported in their jobs.
My experience being a small-group mentor in the Behavioral Science/Family Systems Educator Fellowship (BFEF) was truly magical. My co-mentor and I were both focused on fostering an environment of growth and encouragement—we wanted to help the fellows to spread their wings and also feel well grounded in this unique field. Advising the fellows on teaching activities was only a small part of what we did. The bigger tasks were teaching them about self-care, helping them develop a strong professional identity as behavioral faculty, and helping them set professional boundaries. It is easy to feel like you are on the periphery since behavioral science is often considered by residents to be a small part of what they really need to learn. We try to help the fellows understand that their contributions are crucial to one of the cornerstones of family medicine—the physician-patient relationship.
The mentoring we received from the leaders of the BFEF was phenomenal. At planning meetings I felt like I was part of a think tank helping to pave the way for the future of behavioral science. This group helped bring out the best in me as a teacher and a mentor. Their support, warmth, and kindness made them excellent role models for the small-group mentors as we attempted to provide a safe, effective growing space for our up and coming fellows.
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There are many unique aspects to being a female physician. Being a female faculty member brings with it another layer of complexity to the relationships with female residents. As a mentor and role model for female residents, we have a unique responsibility to help shape their future. Like it or not, our residents look to faculty as not only teachers of medicine but teachers about life as a physician. And, a female physician at that.
The female residents in my program often seek me out to discuss issues not related to their education in family medicine but related instead to how they want their lives to look after residency or how they can balance residency with their current lives.
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Posted in Education, Family Medicine Stories, Leadership, Women in Family Medicine Collaborative
Tagged balance, education, Family Medicine, life, medicine, Mentor, mentoring, Residency, Residents, Sarina Schrager, Women in Family Medicine, work, work life balance
Deborah Taylor, PhD
One of my greatest professional joys has been my connection to STFM’s Behavioral Science/Family Systems Educator Fellowship (BFEF) steering committee. Most “seasoned” behavioral science educators remember the “jump and build wings on the way down” training model for our discipline. The BFEF is an effort to create a more supportive/less isolated model to increase retention and career satisfaction. As with most acts that appear altruistic, those of us on the steering committee quickly found ourselves experiencing increased energy/enthusiasm and dedication to our work. In promoting a fellowship model of mentorship intended to be an offering, we receive far more than we contribute.
The term “mentor” has its roots in Homer’s epic poem, “The Odyssey.” In this myth, Odysseus, a great royal warrior, has been off fighting the Trojan War and has entrusted his son, Telemachus, to his friend and advisor, Mentor. Mentor has been charged with advising and serving as guardian to the entire royal household. As the story unfolds, Mentor accompanies and guides Telemachus on a journey in search of his father and ultimately for a new and fuller identity of his own. At times, throughout the story, Athene, goddess of wisdom, who presides over all craft and skillfulness, whether of the hands or the mind, manifests herself to Telemachus in the form of Mentor. The account of Mentor in “The Odyssey” leads us to make several conclusions about the activity that bears his name. First, mentoring is an intentional process. Mentor intentionally carried out his responsibilities for Telemachus. Second, mentoring is a nurturing process, which fosters the growth and development of the protégé toward full maturity. It was Mentor’s responsibility to draw forth the full potential in Telemachus. Third, mentoring is an insightful process in which the wisdom of the mentor is acquired and applied by the protégé. Some argue it was Mentor’s task to help Telemachus grow in wisdom without rebellion. Fourth, mentoring is a supportive, protective process. Telemachus was to consider the advice of Mentor, and Mentor was to “keep all safe.”
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