on Mentoring: We Rise By Lifting Others - Southern Medical Association

June 2, 2022

on Mentoring: We Rise By Lifting Others

---- by Dr. Mohammed Afraz Pasha

“My sixth grade teacher was my first mentor” recalled a mentoring session panelist at a national meeting that I recently attended, adding that he continues to practice the daily routine instilled at a young age by his mentor. His description of this relationship was longitudinal, where his mentor was deeply invested in his intellectual growth for over five years. “A mentor is an individual within or outside your professional circle, who guides you towards growth”, added another panelist contributing to the discussion on effective mentorship. The narratives of their journeys towards matching with the right mentor and of the mentor’s role in their success were inspirational. I was particularly astonished to learn about the culture of “paying it forward”. “The fulfillment experienced when my mentee achieved the desired goals was more than my personal achievement”, said a panelist traversing his journey from the role of a mentee to a mentor.

Relatively new to the concept of mentoring relationships, I was introduced to a mentorship program by my institution when I started my residency. With no past formal mentoring experience, I was paired with my mentor based on my interest and career goal. “How can I help?” were the introductory words from my mentor most often, laying the platform for me to seek assistance without hesitation. It went a long way in instilling comfort while seeking help. I discussed career goals, identified weaknesses, created ideas, formulated working strategies, and worked on constructive feedback with the assistance of my mentor’s wisdom. The key was to have honest discussions to gain insights and benefit from them. In instances where I felt the need for guidance with scholastic activity, I sought the guidance of my mentor.  He not only assisted me but helped me grow. With my mentor investing in my holistic professional growth by acting as a teacher, senior author, and guide, I immensely benefitted and continue to do so from this relationship.

As I have advanced in my career, my junior colleagues have often come to me seeking assistance. The writing skills I developed were useful when my junior colleagues sought help with regard to their scholarly activities. Without realizing it, I had stepped into the shoes of a peer mentor.  The fulfillment I experienced when I saw them excel and achieve was exhilarating. Through medical societies like the SMA, I have seized the opportunity to be a peer mentor to trainees even outside my institution. This experience has confirmed my belief that we rise by lifting others. Physicians will always be presented with opportunities to contribute to others’ growth, eventually helping develop and strengthen our skillset. At the end of the day, these opportunities are a medium of change and betterment.

I call upon physicians-in-training who have been mentees, to grow and transition as effective mentors who foster meaningful mentoring relationships. While we learn from the invaluable insights of our mentors, that wisdom ought to be shared and passed on. This culture of transition is well promoted by societies such as the SMA, where residents are encouraged to sign up both as mentors and mentees. We continue to grow as mentors while simultaneously benefitting from our own mentor’s feedback. Our development as effective mentors involves continued learning and commitment, but it begins with an intention to “pay it forward”.


**Bio for Dr. Pasha -

Mohammed Afraz Pasha is a 2nd-year Internal Medicine resident at North Alabama Medical Center and the incoming 3rd-year Chief Resident. He is also a member of the SMA's Physicians-in-Training Committee, serving as a leader for the group's Outreach Subgroup.

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