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Mentorship that Matters: How to Foster a Successful Mentor-Mentee Team

By Currents Editor posted 11-01-2022 14:08


Erin D. Wieruszewski, PharmD, R.Ph.

Hera A. Kamdar, MD, MBBS

Shraddha Mainali, MD

Jennifer A. Kim, MD

The NCS Trainee Section launched the Research Mentorship Program in 2017 with the primary objective of providing support and guidance for Neurocritical Care trainees across multiple disciplines. The program initially started with residents and fellows, but has since expanded to included pharmacists, advanced practice providers, and nurses. Mentor-mentee matches are made by the Trainee Section Mentorship Committee based on submitted applications from mentees and mentors largely on their expressed interests in clinical, research and educational topics. The program is designed to be a formal 1-year mentorship program where mentees work with their mentors to design and complete at least one project over the course of their partnership. In addition to the year-long project, mentor-mentee pairs are encouraged to engage in monthly topics of discussion focused on career building such as preparing for interviews, effective time management, establishing work life balance, and leading a team. The program has had many successes over the last 5 years and has often fostered long term friendships and sponsorships. In fact, the success of the program has led to the development of a mentorship award that was first presented at the NCS Annual Meeting in 2019 to acknowledge and promote the great work being done by these teams. 

Today we take a closer look into the successful pairing of Dr. Christa O’ Hana Nobleza and Dr. Shweta Goswami who were the inaugural winners of the Mentorship Award for their work together from 2019-2020. Dr. Nobleza is an Associate Professor of Neurology and is currently the Medical Director of the Baptist Medical Group and Baptist Memorial Hospital Neurocritical Care Service in Memphis, Tennessee. Her interests include multidisciplinary quality improvement, education, and advocacy centered on empowering women and diversity in medicine. Dr. Goswami is currently a second year Neurocritical Care fellow at the University of Florida, Gainesville. She has also taken a keen interest in diversity advocacy. In collaboration with the Trainee Section and Women in Neurocritical Care (WINCC) section the two first met in 2019 at the NCS Annual Meeting in Vancouver B.C. Dr. Nobleza helped Dr. Goswami navigate her first meeting, introduced her to several neurointensivists and sparked her interest in neurocritical care and academia. We asked the pair to answer a few questions on their experience and success. 

Q: Dr. Nobleza, what were your goals as a mentor while signing up for this program? 
CN: I had four goals in mind which helped provide the framework for mentorship: (i) To help my mentee in her career; (ii) To work as a team to build a scholarly project together; (iii) To learn from my mentee; (iv) To gain not just a mentee but a colleague and a friend. I have always thought of mentorship as an honor. I respect that role. 

Q: Dr. Goswami, what have you already gained (or hope to gain) from this experience?
SG: Dr. Nobleza was one of the first attendings who exposed me to neurocritical care. As a woman (who was also 6 months pregnant at her first NCS Annual Meeting), it was incredible to see another woman juggle motherhood and all the pressures of academia as a neurointensivist. She introduced me to so many people at my first annual meeting and fostered my interest in neurocritical care. Despite us living in different cities, she has always taken the time to check in (she recently mailed me a book on leadership!) and include me in any future research endeavors she plans to pursue.  

Q: Dr. Nobleza, can you share 1-2 examples of memorable events during the course of your mentorship?
CN: We finished the project “Speakership Pattern Analysis and Review of Process Collaborative”- Neurocritical Care Society. This project analyzed speakership trends over 8 years of NCS annual meetings. This was presented at the Annual Meeting in Vancouver in 2019, where we received an award for the best mentor-mentee project. We are also working on a book chapter on obstetric neurocritical care. 

Q: Dr. Goswami, what advice do you have for future mentees in the program?
SG: Take the leap! Historically, I've been a mentee since the start of medical school, and it can be hard to continue to build the relationship and maintain the connection. I've gained so much since having met Dr. Nobleza, not only as a professional, but as a mom of a two-year-old. 

Q: Dr. Nobleza, what advice do you have for future mentors in the program?
CN: The first thing a mentor/mentee pair needs is to establish expectations for their relationship. Second is to try to get to know each other as people first and not solely as professional society colleagues. Be truthful with each other and respectful of each other’s time. Come prepared in meetings. Have initiative. 

This dynamic team serves as an inspiration to how a formal mentorship program can provide structure and support for career advancement and meaningful project development, which can flourish even beyond the time of the program itself. The NCS Trainee Research Mentorship program is a wonderful opportunity to create strong professional and personal relationships and we hope that trainees and mentors within the NCS take advantage and participate in the program. To learn more, visit the NCS Mentorship Webpage


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