Mentorship Matters

by Shanna Combs, MD

This article was originally published in the May/June issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.


One of my favorite roles as a physician and medical educator is the opportunity to be a mentor.   At the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine we recently kicked off our 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Mentoring Network Series.  As with everything in life, our mentoring network had been put on the back burner due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It was so refreshing to get back into the mentoring groove again with our latest event, even if it was virtual.

Mentoring is a critical piece to the development of aspiring physicians, not just at the medical training level but also at the college, high school, and school age level.  Unfortunately, over the past few decades the decision to become a physician has all too often been met with negativity…

. . . too much schooling, too much debt, no time for a family or a life, medical-legal concerns, too much paperwork, financial concerns, and ultimately, physician burnout.   

I still remember telling physicians that I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up and immediately hearing how that was not a good career choice, and if they had to do it all over again, they would choose another field.  Thankfully, I occasionally met a doctor or two who showed me how much they loved their work and encouraged me in my pursuits.  This is why mentorship matters.

During this crazy year of a global pandemic, we have truly seen the importance of our healthcare team members and have even named them heroes.  I only hope that this will continue.  While our path as physicians is not always easy, I feel that it is an extremely rewarding one, and I want to help others see how amazing it is to be a doctor.  Mentorship comes in all forms, and one just needs to be willing to share their guidance and expertise to become a mentor.  Mentoring can be formal, peer-to-peer, developmental, instructional, or informal.  No matter the form, mentorship is extremely important and provides benefits to the mentor as well as the mentee.

At our recent mentoring event, not only was I able to provide guidance and nurture our up-and-coming physicians, but I was also able to learn a lot about our community.  Some of the amazing features of the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine Diversity and Inclusion Mentoring Network are that it crosses multiple areas in Medicine, includes mentors from a variety of backgrounds and journeys in life, and is made up of physicians, researchers, administrators, and leaders in the community.  In addition, due to the need to meet virtually, it now includes mentors from across the country who have a connection to our school.  It was exciting to hear about others’ successes, failures, and varied experiences in Medicine as well as to hear about their “why” for pursuing it as a vocation.  It was also refreshing to see the joy on the students’ faces as they were able to interact in small groups with mentors and hear the various pearls of wisdom each one had to share.  

By mentoring medical students, you can provide opportunities for growth and professional development, demonstrate the various careers and specialties in Medicine, and give career advice and counseling.  Most importantly, though, you can see the enthusiasm for your chosen profession. So, if you need a little more joy in your life, I highly recommend finding a way to be a mentor to those in need of guidance and encouragement.  Please feel free to join our Diversity and Inclusion Mentoring Network at the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine.  As with everything in life, a village can only make you stronger.

To join the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine Diversity and Inclusion Mentoring Network, please go to https://tcu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eA8Gugmvl5wg69w.

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