by Dr. Jeremy Brauer
New York Dermatologist
Jeremy A. Brauer, MD is an internationally recognized dermatologist with board certification and fellowship training in Mohs micrographic, laser, and cosmetic surgery. He has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and has commented on procedures in media outlets, including CBS News, Fox News, Extra, GQ Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Bustle and Buzzfeed, and has presented nationally and internationally on his extensive research efforts in dermatology. Dr. Brauer is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery and the American College of Mohs surgery and is currently a clinical associate professor with the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, NYU Langone Medical Center.
Mentorship is of paramount importance in the continued growth and development of all individuals, including physicians. Professionally, for those who are recent graduates, growing practices, or engaging in new directions at any careers point, the guidance and knowledge of a respected member of the profession is priceless. The best part is that what is born as a professional arrangement can often develop into a meaningful and mutually beneficial professional and personal relationship.
It can certainly be a challenge in a busy medical career to find the time to provide mentorship. However, there truly are benefits to both mentors and mentees. As a mentor, spending time with physicians who are currently in or have just finished training, or are pursuing new career paths, exposes one to different perspectives regarding the practice of medicine and encourages the continued challenge to grow as a physician.
Regardless of the size of practice, or whether in an academic or private setting, there are opportunities to become involved in mentorship. At academic institutions, shared research or clinical interests will often naturally lend themselves to the formation of formal and informal mentorship relationships. Additionally, if one has administrative interests, many academic and community hospital systems may have programs in place to acquire and develop these skills (i.e. pursuit of an MBA), often with a mentorship component as part of their curricula.
Specialty societies are also a great way to get involved in mentorship. Among its various mentorship opportunities, each year the AAD holds a “Sharing Mentorship Experiences” breakfast at its annual meeting. Less formal channels include the ability to sign in online to complete a survey to become a mentor or utilize the search tool to seek out and identify a potential mentor at any time. The ASDS Future Leaders Network pairs young/mid-career dermatologists with a mentor that provides a formal curriculum intended to educate and shape the next generation of dermatologic surgeons. While the growth and development of a mentee should be enough gratification in and of itself, most of these societies also regularly recognize exceptional mentors with awards, such as that bestowed by the WDS each year.
Outside of academic institutions, potential options for mentorship include having a formal shadowing program, allowing interested medical students, residents, or international physicians the chance to observe and learn about how dermatology is practiced in a setting outside of what they are exposed to during formal training. Busy small and large group practices may have enough procedures, or generate enough cases, to qualify as an ACGME accredited fellowship site and train and mentor trainees at the fellow level. Regardless of what pathway is chosen, the establishment of a formal program requires each team member to not only stay up to date in dermatology but to also expand his/her knowledge-base in order to best serve as a clinician educator.
The majority of practices that implement some form of mentorship program see a more positive overall atmosphere for all staff members involved. For those that have medical students and residents rotating through, it can also present a fresh perspective and often remind physicians of their own mentee experiences, prompting them to play a more active role in shaping the future practice of medicine. For new or transitioning physicians, a mentor may go beyond the practical and serve as a true resource in all aspects of the practice of medicine. Beyond the decisions of choosing a specialty or keeping up with new treatments, mentees can often provide opinions and share experiences pertaining to new technology or billing systems, for example.
Mentorship promotes an atmosphere of continued learning and a commitment to excellence, while attempting to solve sometimes complex and complicated challenges. We are well aware of the issues that medicine, specifically dermatology, face in today’s economic and political environment. We all have many commitments in our personal and professional lives. However, it is imperative that we find the time to ensure the growth and development of our profession’s future through mentorship.