Busy? Too busy to mentor? Well, just in case you have time, Ann-Marie A. Knight, FACHE, the Regent for Florida – Northern and Western asked Laura Marin, a former intern, to share a little about herself and her thoughts on the mentor/mentee experience.
Guest Article, Laura Marin, DDS, MHAc
A little about me
As a dentist, I am passionate about becoming an interdisciplinary health professional. During my dental career, I realized my professional goal of achieving positive health outcomes through the implementation of integrative approaches. Then, despite enjoying my profession, I decided to advance my professional acumen with a Master’s in Health Administration (MHA).
I am from Colombia, and during the time in my country, my personal and professional experience influenced me to find ways in which I can contribute to improving people’s health. I realized that one of the keys to innovation is learning new things by getting out of your comfort zone. That is when I decided to pursue an MHA in the United States. Being in another country was a motivation to learn from diverse healthcare professionals and identify the strengths and challenges of the health industry.
My mentors have positively impacted my journey as a graduate student. I have had mentors inside and outside school who helped me to understand healthcare systems, make connections, learn about diverse perspectives in healthcare, and identify the professional paths that align with my passion and interests. Additionally, thanks to mentors’ support and their impact on my professional network, I got an Administrative Fellowship.
During my last year as an MHA student, I have had the opportunity to reach back to junior students and be a mentor for them in our health administration student association. I have found it very fulfilling the opportunity to coach students, be a door to network, and help them find ways to use their passion. I am eager to strengthen my mentors’ and mentees’ relationships to keep collaborating in our common commitment: helping others.
As a student, I realized that the academic world is one thing, but mentors offer a unique perspective. Health care is a complex industry; then, as students, we are eager to find someone who helps us develop competent skills to become competent health professionals. We expect that a relationship with a mentor works as a team based on learning, mutual respect, and honesty. I consider a mentor should be able to recognize and understand the potential of the mentee. Each student is different, and we all have diverse backgrounds; hence, a mentor’s challenge is to find the best ways to leverage the mentee’s skills. Then, the most important thing that a mentor must do is to listen to their mentees. Listening is the key to be honest, coach, encourage, and challenge a mentee to keep growing.
Students should leverage their time with a mentor by enhancing communication. Being open and clearly expressing to a mentor their expectations, motivations, plans, and even fears is fundamental in mentorship. Additionally, self-awareness is paramount in a mentor-mentee relationship. Knowing each other is essential to provide and receive insightful feedback. Moreover, a mentee should be proactive in the relationship with a mentor. For instance, I am a planning person, so what has worked for me is to prepare an agenda each time I meet with a mentor. I list the topics I want to touch and write down the questions I have to promote learning and discussion. Mentors have an enormous influence on students. We appreciate the time and talent investment mentors make; however, they should remember how impressionable students are and identify the best professional paths in which they can give their full potential. We will become the future leaders of an imperative industry, and in the meantime, we will continue to seek healthcare leaders as mentors. Trust, ethics, and motivation need to be at the forefront. We need you. We appreciate you, and one day we look forward to following your lead and continuing the cycle of mentorship. Thank you for your time and talent investment in us!