CHESTThought Leader BlogLife as a Fellow: On Being a Peer Mentor as a Fellow

Life as a Fellow: On Being a Peer Mentor as a Fellow

By: Justin K. Lui, MD

Mentorship has long been recognized as a key, invaluable component of professional and academic growth during fellowship training. Often serving as mentors are faculty members dedicated and committed to the success of their mentees. However, sometimes that mentor can be a peer or a near-peer—for instance, a fellow.

As a fellow, we are in an advantageous position given our proximity to residency training and medical school vs some of our faculty mentors who may have had years (maybe even decades) of clinical practice experience. For this reason, we fellows are more in tune with contemporary issues because we boast deeper understanding of the workload challenges and stressors of training. Furthermore, we can offer our mentees insightful personal accounts garnered through all the pitfalls, roadblocks, and joys that come with the years of training that are vital to success. Below are some tips and suggestions that I found helpful on being a peer mentor as a fellow.

Ensure You Also Have a Mentor

Whether that mentor is a faculty member or another peer, it is important to have someone who is there to help guide you. As rewarding as it may be in donning the role of peer mentor, it can also be emotionally exhausting, particularly when you encounter complex issues. In these circumstances, it becomes almost essential to have someone to fall back on during the tough times of uncertainty to help advise you on how to advise.

Maintain Regular Contact With Your Peer Mentee

Check in with your mentee on a regular basis, whether via in-person meetings or email and get updates on their progress. As a peer mentor, you want to create a welcoming and supportive environment. Taking the initiative to reach out to your mentee establishes and speaks volumes of your commitment and dedication to their academic and career advancement. It also makes you more accessible and leaves the door open for them to reach out to you. In my experience, I regularly check in with my peer mentee at least once a month on average.

Participate in Collaborative Scholarly Activities: Grow Your Careers Together

Although you may not be as established as a faculty mentor, there are several scholarship opportunities that you can engage in as a fellow. For instance, abstract and case report submissions from students and trainees are always valued in the CHEST Annual Meeting and can be eligible for prizes and awards. Find something that both you and your peer mentee are passionate about, whether that lies in education, research, or clinical work. Although you and your mentee are at slightly different starting points in your training, there is a closeness to it that allows for both you and your mentee to grow your careers together.

Never Forget to Reflect on the Experience

Reflection is key in any personal and professional growth. You should always take time to reflect on the experience with your mentor. Emphasize high points in the experience and work to find ways to improve and move forward.

Justin Lui, MD

Justin K. Lui, MD, is a graduate of the Boston University School of Medicine. He completed an internal medicine residency and chief residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is a third-year pulmonary and critical care medicine fellow at the Boston University School of Medicine.