The Benefits of Having a Mentor

by David Ross

Do you ever find yourself with questions on how to prepare for your future?  Ever wonder how others may have gone through situations you’ve experienced?  Unsure just who to ask those pointed questions on things you really want to know but are afraid to ask – for example, what really is the best way to deal with office politics?  Consider identifying a mentor – someone you feel comfortable asking questions and engaging in conversation.

Mentoring can be formal or informal.  Some organizations you are already a part of may have structured, formal mentoring programs.  Take advantage of these opportunities to connect with individuals willing to share their experiences and be a resource for you.  In other instances, you may gravitate towards someone informally and periodically seek their perspectives on different issues.  These ad hoc “mentoring” situations can be just as informative and useful as well. Either way, mentors can be excellent sources of advice who may offer interesting ideas based on their own experience and knowledge.

While mentoring can be great from a career perspective, don’t overlook additional benefits.  Mentors may be interested in your growth and development as a person and can possibly offer their thoughts on any variety of subjects.   Once you identify additional, shared interests, you’ll find your discussions may expand to encompass a wider array of topics.

The strongest mentor/mentee relationships develop over extended periods of time.  Definitely seek out opportunities to connect with a mentor – you may find it a rewarding experience that serves you well both now and in the future.

Osteopathic Medicine

by Carol Hagan

When the topic of osteopathic medicine comes up in my conversations with pre-meds, I usually hear something along the lines of “What IS that?” or “I don’t want to be limited.  I may want to do surgery.”  If you are interested in health care, then you should know about osteopathic medicine.  According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), nearly one in five U.S. medical students is training to be an osteopathic physician.  On a more personal level, it would be unfortunate to overlook or dismiss a promising career path due to lack of information or misinformation.


So, what is osteopathic medicine?  AACOM describes osteopathic physicians as “…bringing a patient-centered, holistic, hands-on approach to diagnosing and treating illness and injury.”  Can you specialize?  Yes.  Can you be a surgeon?  Yes.  Can you pursue a dual-degree program?  Yes.  You will find MD’s and DO’s working and teaching side by side in every medical school and teaching hospital in Philadelphia.

Excellent information about osteopathic medicine can be found on AACOM’s web page.   Particularly interesting are the links to current data on applicants, graduates, and areas of specialization and profiles of more than 50 current medical students.  And, of course, there’s a Facebook page!


Don’t forget to talk to osteopathic physicians themselves!  In fact, if you do apply to colleges of osteopathic medicine, you will need to have a letter of recommendation from a DO, just one of a few reasons to consider osteopathic medicine well before it’s time to apply to medical school.  It’s never too early to set up short, informational interviews and make inquiries about shadowing a DO.  Be polite, but be proactive.  If you feel hesitant about how to contact with a physician, come talk to us at Career Services.

Osteopathic medicine may not be the best fit for you, but then again, it might – don’t let what you don’t know limit your options.

Discussing Ethical Issues in Medicine

by Carol Hagan

It’s interviewing season for applicants to medical, dental, and veterinary school, and I’ve had several students report that they were asked to identify and discuss ethical issues in medicine.  Whether you’re interviewing with graduate schools or just beginning to consider a career in health care, learning more about ethical issues in the field broadens your understanding of medical practice and gives you the important opportunity to consider your own values and point of view.

A helpful and interesting resource for learning more about ethics and medicine is the American Medical Association’s Virtual Mentor.

VirtualMentor Edited by medical students and residents, this online journal addresses ethical issues that are likely to arise during one’s medical education and practice.  A brief glance at the searchable database of case studies reveals that ethical considerations in health care extend well beyond stem cell research and euthanasia.

The November 2009 issue is devoted to “Humanizing Physician Learning.”  Do you think your premedical education is the best preparation for a career in health care?  What effect might health care reform have on medical schools and professional training?  Is it useful for clinicians to have more than one graduate degree?  Take a look, see what some professionals have to say, and think about it.