Mentoring beyond my professional ambitions…Blog #3

Have you found a great mentor?  If so, what makes him/her great?  Have you developed relationships with work peers or supervisors?  What type of programs/initiatives does your company host to foster staff relationships. Have you found a great mentor?  If so, what makes him/her great?  Have you developed relationships with work peers or supervisors?  What type of programs/initiatives does your company host to foster staff relationships

My internship here in Nicaragua has given me a new perspective to what it means to be a mentor. All my life I’ve always had mentors that have shaped my decisions especially when it comes to my professional journey and achievements. As a first generation everything (high school as well as college) finding mentors to help guide my academic path has come to me more as a need rather than a choice. But here in Nicaragua, it has been the people I work with rather than my supervisors that have served as mentors for me. The research team I work with at La Mascota Children’s hospital consists of three pediatricians and two licensed nurses. But needless to say I am constantly learning from all five of them.

During this summer’s internship, I’ve learned that mentoring does not solely consist of guiding a professional’s career, but also their personal life and finding a good balance between both. One of the pediatricians that I’ve been working with in particularly has helped me a lot in terms setting an example of how to keep a balance between being a doctor, as well as a wife, daughter, sister, and aunt. One of the things that worried me the most about becoming a doctor was being able to find a good balance between the job and my personal life. I was worried that with all the time that is invested in being a doctor, that there would be very little time if any, to have a family of my own. I was worried that the only way for a spouse to understand the long hours worked by a doctor, was if they themselves were doctors. However, seeing how my mentor has her life under control (engaged to a business man and expecting her first baby, while being the head of our team) has given me hope that you can have the best of both worlds. I’ve talked to her about it on several occasions, and she has warned me that although it is not easy, it is definitely doable and that it is also all about prioritizing (something that I’ve become too familiar with at Michigan.)

In addition to being a role model in keeping a balance between work and her life, Dra Membreño has taught me a lot about what it means to be a good doctor. At the beginning of my internship I noticed that when she gave the explanation about the study to parents of the infants they would be more willing to participate, in comparison to when the other team members explained the study to them. At first I thought that it this was due to her being a doctor rather than a nurse or volunteer. But as I payed closer attention to her and the others doctor’s and nurse’s explanations, I realized that it had nothing to do with her being a doctor and instead had to do with how she would approach and give her explanation. Dra Membreño did not use fancy medical terminology, which often causes the patient’s parents to lose interest in the study, and instead approached each parent on a personal level identifying with their specific case, and explaining to them why it would be beneficial specifically to their child. It became clear to me that being part of the study’s team was more than just a job for her, and that she really believes that it is a benefit for the children who are part of the study. It is obvious to the patient’s parents that she believes in what she is doing and that is the reason that they trust her, giving consent to be in the study. In addition, Dra Membreño has the gift of being a good teacher, something not every person is gifted in. When I have the opportunity of working with her, she actually explains concepts to me, forcing me to learn the medical processes in the study, instead of just going through the motions. She is a big part of the reason of why I have once again become interested fulfilling my dream to become a doctor.

Another aspect of mentoring that has become clearer to me in this internship is that communication is key in any job. One of the nurses in the team has become another mentor for me, not only because she trained me in the all aspects of my job, but because she has insisted that I ought to never be afraid of asking if I find something is unclear. Vilmaricia reminds me of a busy bumble bee, because you can always find her doing something, even when the rest of the team is relaxing. Even though she is a nurse, I often find that she is held more responsible than that some of the other doctors themselves which I believe is because of the efficiency in her work ethics. It is to her that I come if I do not understand something within the study, and I admire that she always knows the answer even if it is part of the scientifically researchy stuff. It is clear, that for her too, working in the study is beyond a simple job, and that she is truly invested in the study itself. Perhaps because we are closer in age, we have developed a close relationship sharing aspirations in life. Her advice is astonishingly unreflective of her age, making me realize that peers too can become our mentors.

As I finish my last two weeks of my internship, I feel grateful to have developed such close relationships with my coworkers, and now consider them important mentors of my life. I hope that I am able to keep in touch with them when I go back to Michigan, and I know now that being a mentor is beyond exclusively guiding the professional life of an individual; It is guiding them through life and the many turns it has. I am excited to go back and try to become a mentor for others myself, having a clear picture of what it is to be one.

As always Paciencia y Fe!

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