As you know, GHHS is encouraging the adoption of a mentoring focus in its medical student and resident chapters as well as among its thousands of members practicing in medical centers and communities. Specifically, formal and informal guidance by GHHS members for their peers could result in an enormously supportive network. The provision of peer-to-peer help through role modeling, friendship, counseling, acceptance, and confirmation can promote aspects of a career such as sense of confidence, self-efficacy, and personal development. Just imagine the impact GHHS members could have on their colleagues by developing and leading peer mentoring programs that address issues such as burnout, the hidden curriculum, and development of satisfying patient connections.
We have been struggling to find a mentoring framework to bring to you; there is no perfect peer mentoring program that we have yet identified to promote to our chapters. We continue to seek strong models of peer mentoring, and if you know of any, please send them to the national GHHS office. In the meantime, GHHS chapters have shared some wonderful ideas that can be used to promote mentoring. These have been collected for you in the new GHHS Gold Guide. Outlined below are some ideas about promoting mentoring at your institution as well:
- Select your new GHHS members early enough so there is ample time for them to meet with your outgoing GHHS members. Having a meeting between old and new GHHS members will create a culture of pride, encourage the propagation of a chapter history, and allow for a “passing of the torch” regarding goals, ideas, projects, and plans.
- GHHS Programming for First-Year Students: Any GHHS participation in the White Coat Ceremony (organizing, welcoming, donning coats, giving talks, hosting workshops, recognizing GHHS inductees) will introduce your GHHS members as role models of compassionate, patient-centered care to your first-year medical students. If your school hosts an Activities Fair for new students, make sure GHHS is represented at a table. Consider programming around the experience and challenges of cadaver dissection. We know that this is an important milestone and yet a difficult experience for many of our medical students. Ideas include:
- Panels or small group discussions led by GHHS students to address possible feelings of fear, loathing, guilt, and discomfort
- Hosting a celebration of thanks and appreciation for the donors and their families
- GHHS Programming for Second-Year Students: By the second year, most students are more than ready to leave the classroom and provide direct patient care. However, as they transition, they face the fear of the unknown. Programming ideas include:
- Have the GHHS students send out a survey to second-year students asking about what they are most worried as they transition to clinical work. Then host a lunch, workshop, classroom conversation, dinner, or informal meeting at someone’s home for GHHS students to share insights and suggestions
- Have the GHHS students play an integral part of the Student Clinician Ceremony, such as giving talks and/or hosting roundtable discussions.
- GHHS Programming for Third-Year Students: We know that medical literature reveals that students are at great risk for losing empathy for patients in their third year. There are so many issues that they must face including death, fear of failure, fear of making mistakes, depression, substance use, work/life balance issues, the volume of the material they must learn, fatigue, managing the medical record, etc. Many students aren’t comfortable communicating with patients, and don’t know to what degree they should allow themselves to make emotional attachments. Programming ideas include:
- Lunches, in-class sessions, after work meeting, in-home gatherings, etc., to touch on these and other topics. Now would be a great time to use humanistic writings to jump start sensitive discussions. My favorite book for facilitating these conversations is On Being a Doctor (I have the third edition), published by the ACP and edited by Laine and LaCombe. Most of the readings are so brief that they can be shared in the moment, and the students don’t have to prepare ahead of time. Beginning with a reading is a great way to encourage people to open up about difficult and deeply personal issues.
- GHHS Programming for Fourth-Year Students: Fourth year students face decisions about career choices and are worried about the next phase of their training. Peer mentoring ideas include:
- Creation of programs around the match by GHHS students that bring classmates together to remind them of their humanity and purpose before launching into residency training. For examples of such programs, look at the mentorship section of the GHHS Gold Guide .
- Ask GHHS residents to speak with fourth-year students about the culture and climate of residency training as well as ways to develop resilience and find support.
- GHHS Programming for Residents: Internship and residency can be extremely stressful times, and everyone is well aware of issues such as depression, and suicide during these years. Ideas for peer support include:
- Any programing that brings house officers together to share their doubts, worries, and fears. As mentioned above, scheduled lunches, meetings after work in restaurants, invitations to faculty homes to provide opportunities to speak freely about experiences are often greatly appreciated by trainees. Consider beginning with literature as suggested above.
- Multidisciplinary models such as Schwartz Rounds are a great way to invite the medical community to have open and honest discussions about the struggles they face in the healthcare environment.