I first met Steve during my paediatrics placement at Birmingham Children’s Hospital earlier this term. I felt nervous, unsure what to expect, or which direction our conversation would take. I knew that Steve has more letters after his name than letters in my name. And my name is pretty long! How do you relate to someone so senior to you? It immediately became apparent just how senior Steve was when he informed me that I should have arrived two minutes earlier as I could have met the CEO of the Children’s Hospital. He was visiting on business.
I was initially surprised at how direct our meeting was. Within 10 seconds Steve had asked me what I want to do and where I see myself in the future. Within minutes he was suggesting courses of action, highlighting Masters programmes and people that would help me along the way. He shared some of his own experiences, explaining how he reached his current position. Steve has offered for me to visit him in London, to see some of the work that he does in the Houses of Parliament. He suggested a Masters in medical education programme that I should undertake as early as possible to enable me to pursue a career as a medical educator. He also offered opportunities to meet some inspirational members of his team pursuing leadership roles. This meeting made me realise that my mentoring relationship offers a unique opportunity to interact with someone incredibly successful who I wouldn’t otherwise have crossed paths with. It has opened doors that I wasn’t previously aware existed.
Despite the mentoring training session, I naively thought that mentoring was all about making a friend. Perhaps I was hoping to discuss hobbies and the weather. However, rather than wasting time finding out my favourite colour, it rapidly became evident that Steve was interested in offering practical opportunities. After a brisk 20 minutes, our meeting was over and we parted ways. This helped me to understand that the mentoring relationship is not about making an older friend, it is a purpose-driven, professional relationship to enable you to reflect on your career goals and ambitions.
I intend to meet Steve again in the new year and hope to arrange a trip to London to see the more political side of his job. More to follow!
Christopher Chadwick, Final year MBChB