On the Gifts of Mentorship

Author: Megha Vipani; 2018 MSARF Participant

April 9, 2021

Vipani, Megha

Mentorship is a core component of many of FAER’s grants and programs for early-stage trainees and researchers. I was introduced to research and mentorship in anesthesiology following my first year as a medical student through the FAER Medical Student Anesthesia Research Fellowship (MSARF). Since that time, my involvement with FAER has opened the door to clinical and research mentorships that have enriched my training.

As a medical student, these are some of the greatest gifts these mentors have offered me:

1. Guidance

Dr. Huafeng Wei at the University of Pennsylvania served as my MSARF research mentor. His guidance through designing my own experiments, analyzing data, drafting a manuscript, and preparing presentations for national meetings laid the foundation for my future research endeavors. His teaching in the operating room, along with that of others, convinced me that a career in anesthesiology would bring me great joy and fuel my intellectual curiosity for years to come.

2. Support

Soon after my research fellowship, I was impressed by the support FAER aimed to provide for the next generation of physician-scientists in anesthesiology. I hoped to give back by building an even stronger program for subsequent participants. Dr. Steve Shafer, then FAER Development Committee Chair, and Dr. Jim Eisenach, FAER President, valued the perspective and experience I brought to the table even as the most junior member of the FAER Development Committee and created a welcoming space in which to contribute my ideas. This support has encouraged me to continue building and sharing my vision for my future career and the specialty as a whole.

3. Sponsorship

Through FAER, I was introduced to Dr. Harriet Hopf, FAER Board Chair and a dedicated mentor. Our shared interest in career development and diversity in anesthesiology led to collaboration on a research study supported by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Committee on Professional Diversity’s Mentoring Grant Program. At every step, Dr. Hopf has provided the guidance, connections, and resources required to ensure the greatest success of the project. She serves as not only a mentor, but also a sponsor in my growth as a physician and researcher.

4. Openness

The best mentors have invested in my potential professionally and personally. Faculty within my own institution, including FAER-ABA Research in Education Grant (REG) recipient Dr. Julie Huffmyer, have opened their offices to me and candidly shared the struggles and successes they faced on the journey to where they are now. Their vulnerability validates my experiences and provides valuable opportunities for learning. Their stories have helped me anticipate and prepare for challenges I may face in my own career. Together, they have shown me different paths to achieving my own goals.

5. Perspective

Through observation in the clinical and other professional settings, mentors have identified and highlighted my unique skills and aptitudes that were less apparent to me. They have encouraged me to embrace these strengths to facilitate patient care and contribute to the teams around me. My mentors also recognize characteristics that may be holding me back and provide actionable feedback focused on improving my performance.

Soon, I will embark on the next exciting chapter of my training: residency. I am confident that I will continue to find support from FAER’s network of mentors wherever my career takes me. Fortunate to have had mentorship in many forms, I hope to pay it forward along the way.