By Pouya Alexander Ameli, MD, MS
Neurocritical Care Fellow, Emory University
Chair-Elect, Trainee Section
Naomi Niznick, MD
PGY3 Neurology Resident, The Ottawa Hospital
Trainee Section Leadership Committee
In Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus asks for his friend “Mentor” to watch after his son Telemachus while he fought in the Trojan War. When Odysseus does not return, Mentor’s wisdom is key in guiding Telemachus to discover what happened to his father.
From these ancient origins arises the modern concept of mentorship — to help someone achieve a personal or professional goal.
Even before the times of Odysseus and Mentor, all provisioners of healthcare have embraced the sacred privilege of caring for our communities. When fully embraced, this task also involves the hallowed ritual of mentoring to the next generation of caregivers. Indeed, the Greek translation of “mentor” is “steadfast” or “enduring” — that is, mentorship allows for all of us to continue our impact long after we are gone.
The Trainee Section of NCS recognizes the wealth of wisdom that sits within our society. We all sit atop the mountain tirelessly constructed by the pioneers before us (and, in many cases, around us). The Trainee Section seeks to facilitate every trainee’s ability to see further. As such, we have devoted much of our time to mentorship programming in many forms.
During the Trainee Section’s Specialty Corner at the NCS Annual Meeting, a multidisciplinary panel of physicians, pharmacists, nurses and advance practice providers gave advice on how to become effectively incorporated into an ICU team. With only standing room available, trainees at various levels learned how to navigate workplace conflicts, how to give and receive feedback, and how to avoid common mistakes. A lively discussion ensued and extended beyond the time allotted for the event.
Perhaps the most visible example of the Trainee Section’s mentorship programming is our yearly Mentorship Mingle at the NCS Annual Meeting. Growing from 20 mentors during the inaugural session in 2017, the 2019 session was attended by more than 40 of the most influential minds in NCS — brilliant educators, scientific scholars, directors and administrators, former NCS presidents, pioneers. The session was organized as a speed-dating style event during which trainees have the opportunity to have one-on-one interaction with many of the famous figures we aspire to emulate. Every year, the room teems with vibrant energy and warmth as the torches are passed, and it has quickly become one of the highlights of the Annual Meeting for all those involved.
Nonetheless, the Mentorship Mingle and Trainee Section Specialty Corner are just a snapshot of what happens daily at learning institutions everywhere. As I write this essay, somewhere in the world, a mentor is imparting sage advice that will spawn the breakthroughs allowing us to cure coma, improve health disparities and combat burnout. A quick literature search can reveal the immense impact that mentorship can have on a trainee’s choice of career, professional trajectory and academic productivity.
To the mentors who attended the Mentorship Mingle, those who served as panelists for our specialty corner and those who consistently reserve time in their busy schedules for us, we sincerely thank you for helping us realize that we, too, could be great one day. We hope to pay it forward in your honor.
If you are mentor who loves to pass torches or a mentee who wants to receive them, please email the Trainee Section below and ask about our mentorship opportunities!
For trainees looking for mentorship, or who just want to be more involved in NCS, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief sentence about what you seek.
For mentors who want to help guide the next generation of caregivers, please email inquiries to Megan Barra at email@example.com.