Without going into too much detail, I am no longer working side-by-side with my mentor. I have been under her for 6 out of the 7 years of my career so to say she helped me along the way would be a n understatement of large proportions. I have written on the importance of mentorship before and now in this time of transition for me I would like to reiterate just how much it means to both parties.
When I first starting working with my mentor I was a young buck almost straight out of school and tried to be the most solid technically that I could be. My mentor noticed this right away and said to me, “I’m going to start giving you projects because if I don’t you will get bored rather quickly.” This was the start of a relationship that has brought me all the way to now applying and interviewing for her level of employment. Starting out as a new technologist/technician, it is important to seek out a mentor so you have someone that can lead the way and ensure your success. I was lucky enough to have someone seek me out early because she saw a lot of herself in me. I tell new graduates that when you are applying for your first position to ask during the interview who on the staff is willing to be a mentor. This shows that you are looking to move forward in your career and will grab the attention of the people interviewing you. Make sure you also link up with someone who will be around for a significant period of time, especially in your first position. More than likely with your first position you will be there for a year or longer so don’t seek a mentor who will be leaving or moving into a new role within the next 6 months.
On the other side of things with this change of events I will more than likely be the one mentoring as well as being mentored. I have begun to look for technologists that are willing to learn some of the behind-the-scenes work that I do as a supervisor. Starting off as a mentor brings with itself new challenges one of which is finding enough time to be an effective mentor. If you feel you are too busy to get your own work done then being a mentor may need to wait. Always remember when we work with students or new technologists they are like a sponge and will take in the good and the bad. It is important to be a mentor, and I take the responsibility with a sense of respect for the profession. We play a very important role in the continuum of care and it is up to us to train the next generation.
My first week without my mentor and it has been a challenge. Not having a resource that could answer 99.9% of my questions off the top of her head has been the biggest challenge. I knew this day would come sooner or later but now that it is here I wish I had just a little more time. The amount of knowledge I have gained is immeasurable and I have no way of reciprocating what she has done for me. I can only tell her “thank you” and that every day I will use the knowledge she has given me to ensure the quality of my work and hopefully mentor someone as well as she has mentored me. Sadly, all good things must come to an end.
–Matthew Herasuta, MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM is a medical laboratory scientist who works as a generalist and serves as the Blood Bank and General Supervisor for the regional Euclid Hospital in Cleveland, OH.