Cover Photo: Medical Redhead with her primary healthcare mentor.
I’ve been at my pre-health game for sometime: 3 years as a pre-med, 6 months as a pre-pharm. Within this time, I shadowed doctors in emergency medicine, family medicine, cardiology, pediatrics, pharmacy, podiatry, global health, OB/GYN, orthopedics, and rheumatology. From PhDs to MDs/DOs to RNs to PharmDs, each of my shadowing experiences taught me something unique. Yet obviously, I cannot ultimately become all of these specialities.
I spent 3 months of one summer shadowing a podiatrist for 80 hours. I loved this preceptorship, and I loved the patients and medical cases. Due to geographical restrictions and other personal commitments, I didn’t choose to pursue podiatry. Yet, this choice wasn’t a reflection of my time shadowing– it was a choice of recognizing external factors.
Two years later, I found myself being the patient of this podiatrist. Excited to reconnect, I waited for them to walk into the room. I wondered if they will remember me or if they will be excited that I am finishing my master’s.
Enthusiastic, I did not anticipate feeling deflated after the interaction. They did recognize me, they did ask about my master’s… but they also pointedly asked, “So, did anything I teach you make a difference in persuading you to go into podiatry?” I was a bit shocked, because after shadowing this podiatrist for an entire summer, their question crushed me a bit. “Of course!” I wanted to validate. “You taught me about diabetic ulcers, you taught me how to earn privileges in different hospital systems, you taught me, you taught me, you taught me… You made a difference for me.”
Their donated time really did make a difference, and even though I did not choose their specialty, it didn’t mean I wasn’t positively affected by their mentorship. They still taught me valuable lessons: unique to podiatry, general to healthcare. I don’t regret a single minute of the time I spent learning from them.
So, to all the doctors I will never end up being, you are appreciated. You have taught me more than I can write in a single blog. You have provided both medical knowledge and professional knowledge. Every question of your students answered, every debrief communicated, every tip about applications or professionalism– it has made and continues to make a difference in my journey.
Mentees, appreciate your mentors and preceptors. Let them know your plans and your compliments. Share the lessons you’ve learned from them. It is the highest hope that we will one day be in the position to have our own mentees. Based off the amazing interactions I’ve had with past and current mentors, I hope that I can give back to my future mentees regardless of where their ultimate path lies.