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The Culture of Mentoring in Healthcare

“If we lay a strong enough foundation

We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you 

And you’ll blow us all away 

Someday, someday 

Yeah, you’ll blow us all away…” 

(Excerpt from Dear Theodosia by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr. – Hamilton the Musical)

I felt a light touch on my shoulder during the Friday night celebration at NANT 8. I turned to find two women beaming with delight.

“I just HAVE to introduce you to someone,” said the woman to my left. “This is my mentor! She is the most generous, humble, and intelligent mentor I could’ve ever wished for in the NICU.”

Her mentor smiled and softly thanked her colleague. They shared many examples of what they’ve accomplished together. Their bond and mutual respect was clear. It was also inspiring.

You’ll learn more about their story in a future Thought of the Week article that I asked them to write together, but I couldn’t wait to share the culture and spirit of their mentoring relationship. As many of you have experienced firsthand, such relationships are not always so successful.

You’ve been taught by many types of teachers and mentors. Some changed your life for the better with their openness, collaboration, support, and knowledge while others left you holding mere echoes of lessons which you pried out of their closely held repertoire of expertise.

The former builds into you, the latter builds themselves up behind a wall of fear or elitism or both (hint: elitism is fear dressed up in different clothing).

I thanked the mentor for her incredible example, for building a culture of reciprocity in a realm that is often crafted in hierarchy. Her leadership is not only admirable but necessary for the future of our specialty.

Individually and collectively we have a choice – we can hoard the vast knowledge, experience, and leadership held by the pioneering generations of neonatal therapists or we can pour it into those we mentor and watch them…someday, someday blow us all away.