By: Liz Mahan
Mentorship. It is a familiar word, but what does it mean? When you think of a mentor, who comes to mind? A teacher? A coach? Perhaps a benevolent boss or a trusted colleague?
By definition, a mentor is “a trusted counselor or guide,” and mentorship is “the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor.” When I think of mentorship and the benefits, I think of the Three C’s: Counsel, Candor, and Confidence. In this article, I will profile two examples of successful mentorships gained through the AAPPR Mentor Match program, and you can hear in their own words what the experience has meant to them. With increasing emphasis placed on mentorship programs, how can individuals and organizations utilize these programs to grow and develop talent?
Mentorship encourages participants to improve both personally and professionally. It fosters a collaborative environment where there is a free exchange of viewpoints and ideas that can help to build diversity of thought. Mentorship programs make it easier for mentors and mentees to find each other and support a learning culture. Mentors feel satisfaction in sharing their wisdom and experiences with others and experience the opportunity to reflect on their goals and practices. Mentees gain an insider perspective on navigating their chosen career and access to resources.
In spring 2020, Ginger Canaday-Thompson, CPRP, had been a Physician Recruiter with Holzer Health System in Ohio for four years. While she has several years of experience, she wondered if she was doing everything she should to attract top talent to her organization. She also wanted to grow professionally and thought it would be beneficial to have someone to go to for counsel with challenges. Ginger turned to the Association for Advancing Physician and Provider recruitment and signed up for a mentor through the Mentor Match program.
That is how she connected with Dennis Burns, Provider Recruitment Manager at Tidelands Health in South Carolina. Dennis has been working in the profession for more than twenty years. He has long believed that mentorship helps the provider recruitment profession grow and evolve. Throughout his career, Dennis has enjoyed providing education and insight to others and discussing how the profession has changed and continues to advance. He also loves to share stories with other recruitment professionals.
Ginger and Dennis connected on Mentor Match and began to work together through the program. “We started by just getting to know each other. I shared my background with Dennis, and he shared his with me,” Canaday-Thompson said. Burns said that “it is about getting to know one another and building trust. From there, things start to evolve into sharing experiences, challenges, and talking about what we see in the profession.”
For the past eight months, Ginger and Dennis have spoken regularly. “It isn’t formal. We make the schedule. Some of our conversations are long, and some are short.” Canaday-Thompson said. Burns agrees and also points out that “it isn’t a time-intensive commitment, and we always walk away from our conversations having learned something from each other.” The pair have shared both personal and professional challenges with each other during this time and have become friends. Canaday-Thompson noted that “the success of the match is very dependent upon the attitude of both parties. Dennis has been very giving of information, tips, and suggestions and has brought a positive approach to all our communication. That, I think, made our chats productive and enjoyable.” From his perspective, Burns has enjoyed getting a new perspective, “especially the perspective of someone newer to the profession. Working with a professional like Ginger has helped me to continue to grow and, I think at the same time, also supports the growth of our profession. It is about different experiences coming together.”
Jessica Reynolds has been a recruitment professional for ten years and a member of AAPPR for five years, most recently as a Physician Recruiter with Keystone Healthcare Partners in Tennessee. In the spring of 2020, Jessica reached a point professionally where she was thinking about how to continue advancing her career and wanted to know more about AAPPR from an internal perspective. Jessica turned to AAPPR’s Mentor Match program. She found Aisha DeBerry, CPRP, the Atlantic Group Director of Physician and Provider Recruitment for Bon Secours Mercy Healthcare, who also serves on the Board of Directors for AAPPR.
Jessica and Aisha had similar personalities and were able to form a connection right away. “Aisha had a different background from me, but her career had taken her to the director level. I liked that. I also loved how transparent Aisha is.” Reynolds shared. At first, Aisha worried that because Jessica had over ten years of experience, she might not be able to offer her much. “I was honored to be asked to be a mentor, and our first conversation was so easy it just felt like a natural connection,” says Aisha. “I think mentorship is important at any point in your life or career.”
Aisha and Jessica never have an agenda for their conversations, and they both point out that they not only talk about their careers and professional lives but also their personal lives. “We have talked a lot about what it means to be black women in physician recruitment where we are not heavily represented,” DeBerry notes. Reynolds echoed her thoughts and shared how “Aisha and I talk about how to bring our voices, uniqueness, and perspectives to the table.” They can also relate to both being professional women with families and the challenges that can present. “We spend our days in the office, and then we go home, and it’s starting your second job,” DeBerry said. “We are able to bounce ideas off of each other, talk about our experiences, or sometimes we just talk about our families or things that are going on in our lives.”
Over the last six months, Jessica and Aisha have learned a lot from each other. Jessica found someone who is an industry leader and has a diverse background and experience. With their personal lives being almost parallel, she learned from Aisha what she has done in different situations. “Aisha’s transparency is fantastic. I would encourage anyone who is mentoring to be straightforward and open and to go into the mentorship willing to share things that are outside your comfort zone,” Reynolds said. “Seeing Aisha face some big challenges and still find a way to grow and contribute was inspiring and made me find new ways to expand my interests and involvement with my community.” DeBerry shares that “this past year has challenged all of us in so many ways.” The experiences she has had this past year pushed DeBerry to look at things differently. “At a time where you want to help but can’t, mentorship gave me an escape and a way to continue to do something good for other people.”
For those who have participated in successful mentorship programs, the benefits are tremendous. They range from learning skills that will carry them through their careers to tackling a challenging problem and include connecting with someone who has a unique viewpoint or experience and making a lifelong friend. Reynolds summed it up nicely by sharing that “Aisha gives me homework; she asks me questions that make me think and push me to be a little better. I also have a sounding board, someone who makes me slow down and put things in order.” For her part as a mentor, DeBerry says, “it’s my job to be honest and transparent. But it’s not just about providing all the advice and knowledge. You get so much out of mentorship when you’re open to receiving it as well.”
Canaday-Thompson and Burns shared they had a similar experience. Connecting through Mentor Match has translated into a friendship. “Mentors grow from the experience as much as mentees do. I’ve been fortunate to be able to share things with Ginger that are going well and, at times, the things that are challenging for me personally or professionally.” Burns said. From her experience, Canaday-Thompson feels that “I have someone I can go to with any problem or challenge I’m facing. I know Dennis is in my corner, and I’m in his.”
Mentors and mentees agree that it does not take a lot of time to participate and the ingredients for a successful experience are the same. It is essential to be open, both to giving advice and to receiving it. No one is expected to have the answer every time, but mentors and mentees find that they are better able to work through challenges together. Equally important is to remember to give back; the provider recruitment profession continues to grow through the work we do together. Last but certainly not least, members so often mention that it is the network of colleagues that make AAPPR so unique, and the Mentor Match program is just one way to connect with that network in a meaningful way.