February 2012

Mentors

When Ulysses went off to fight the Trojan War, the classics tell us, he asked a trusted older friend to watch over the education of his son. The friend's name was…Mentor. And as you know, that name has come to designate, in a generic sense, anyone who guides another along a learning path.

I never had a mentor myself, and—especially early on, surrounded by students whose background had prepared them for the world of medicine in a way mine hadn't—I sorely missed having someone to turn to for advice.

Today, at our School of Medicine, we're launching a formalized mentoring program for junior faculty, precisely because we recognize that systematic access to wise counsel is an essential component of individual growth and career satisfaction (and, by extension, a key determinant in the recruitment and retention of top people).

Mentoring, though, is not just for faculty, of course. Every occupation offers the chance for an experienced person to offer guidance to someone who's still trying to figure it all out. Whether you're in Nursing or IT, Building Services or Human Resources—whatever your professional specialty—the sharing of knowledge between the later and earlier stages of the learning curve has a vital role to play.

I want those of you who have been here for a long time to feel that what you have learned-by-doing matters. And I also hope that you're eager to impart what you know. Doing so, I can promise you, will enrich your own life every bit as much as the life of those you help grow.