Dr. Taylor's post is the final installment of a 5-week collaborative series hosted by the blogs of CFHA and STFM.
Please read all the previous posts.
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
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,
Athena, 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.”
I was surprised to learn that mentoring begins to appear in
the professional literature only in the last 15-20 years. Mentoring is now clearly
identified as an important influence in professional development in both the
public and private sector, including health care. Documented benefits of
mentoring include increased performance, retention, commitment to the organization
(local and sponsoring), and the presence of paying it forward by mentees.
I am consistently struck with the opportunities we have to
"walk the talk” about mentoring’s value -- the mentor as teacher, as counselor,
as a "travel” guide and one who promotes the development of others. I encourage you to reflect on the
myriad mentoring opportunities that present to us as members of residency programs,
family medicine departments, health care organizations, and regional/national professional
development groups like STFM and CFHA. Be open to seeking mentoring
relationships as well as offering your expertise and professional friendship,
and "promote” others in need.
I hope you have or will enjoy being on the giving and
receiving end of some valuable mentoring in your life – it has been my "cat’s
pajamas” and my "bee’s knees” (my mom’s 2 favorite descriptors)! Thanks for engaging – I really appreciate
|Dr. Deborah Taylor
has been a Behavioral Science Educator and Associate Program Director
at Central Maine Medical Center FMR |
(a community based program with a
rural training emphasis) for the past 20+ years. She received her PhD in
Clinical Psychology from the U. of Kansas and has worked in medical
education for the past 25 years. Deborah currently serves as the
Co-Director of the STFM Behavioral Science/Family Systems Educator