President's Perspective January 2012
By Glenn M. Weinraub, DPM, FACFAS, President
A few years ago I was privileged to write a guest editorial in the Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery about the importance of mentorship.
Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”I still feel that mentoring and giving back to one’s profession remain as two of the most important building blocks to becoming a complete physician. In my own life I have been fortunate to have had profoundly positive mentoring experiences from special physicians including Chris Attinger, Rich Derner, Jack Schuberth, John Steinstra, Steve Stern and Gerard Yu, to name a few. There is no question that each and every time I place a knife to skin I am taking some part of each mentor with me on that surgical journey, and for that I am truly thankful.
Now that I am “mid-career” it is evident that I, like many of my peers, are transitioning from mentees into mentors. My first foray into the world of mentorship was not a successful one. I was a second year student at CCPM in San Francisco when the administration implemented a new program that would team up second year students to mentor the incoming first year students. As fate would have it, I was paired up with a student from Southern California via South Africa named Graham Hamilton (who today is one of my partners at Kaiser Permanente). I admit that I failed Graham miserably. As Graham tells it today, we only had one meeting and the only words of advice I gave him were that he should eat at “Linda’s Café” on Tuesdays because that’s where the “Best Burritos were.” Oh well…
For the last three years, ACFAS has partaken in a successful program to team up individuals from the Board of Directors with each of our ACFAS Student Chapters at all of the Schools of Podiatric Medicine. My “own” two schools are the Student Chapters at Samuel Merritt University and the Western University of Health Sciences in California. I can say that each of my visits to these academic centers have proven to be some of my professional highlights this year. The students are consistently appreciative to hear and see about the “outside world” of foot and ankle surgery. They are inquisitive and not afraid to challenge the status quo, a good omen for our organization and our profession.
In the art world I once read a monograph regarding mentorship that certainly resonates with the surgical world: “In every art, beginners must start with models of those who have practiced the same art before them. And it is not only a matter of looking at the drawings, paintings, musical compositions, and poems that have been and are being created; it is a matter of being drawn into the individual work of art, of realizing that it has been made by a real human being, and trying to discover the secret of its creation.”
In this spirit and as members of the ACFAS, I encourage you to become involved in mentorship. The spectrum of opportunity is endless; this could take the form of training fellows and residents to simply giving sage advice to undergraduate students. Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction. Best wishes to you all for a healthy and happy 2012!
Questions for Dr. Weinraub? Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.