School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Mentoring & Observership

Mentoring and Observerships: A mentor is defined as a teacher who enhances a student's skills and intellectual and professional development. A student’s mentor may use his/her influence to facilitate the student's entry and advancement into the professional world. A mentor may act as a host and guide, welcoming the mentee into a new occupational and social world and acquainting the student with its values, customs, and resources. The mentor may be an exemplar that the students can admire and seek to emulate. He/she may provide counsel and moral support in times of stress. The most critical function of the mentor is to support and facilitate the realization of the DREAM. Please refer to Dr. MacLean's presentation on the Mentoring Program.  Use your mentors and faculty advisors to set up observerships and learn more about different specialties. Spend a ½ day with someone and see if it is an area of medicine you would like. Think about the personality characteristics of the physicians within this specialty. Consider what a long term career in this specialty might be like.

 The WSU-SOM Mentoring Program is designed to provide medical students with a multi-layered system of support that provides academic, career and personal guidance and advocates for the professional development of each individual.  The large number of students in each class decreases the ability of faculty and staff to get to know students personally and increases the risk of students going through their medical school education in anonymity. The Mentoring  Program is central to the core values of WSU-SOM and is designed to decrease the risk of student isolation and anonymity. It prepares our mentees to become lifelong learners, productive students, and successful residents. Mentoring also engages faculty and promotes teaching, research and service.  A school that promotes a culture of mentoring strengthens its ability to build a sense of community and potentially recruits its mentees as physicians into the region. Embedded in the mentoring program is a career advising curriculum which introduces students to Careers in Medicine and other useful resources for career development. Mentors are assigned by the Office of Student Affairs annually for all Year 1 and Year 2 students. During the third year, students meet with faculty advisors to obtain 1:1 mentoring in specific specialties.

Observerships/Shadowing:  Spending time on the job with physicians in various specialties is very valuable in the first two years of medical school.  Observing gives you opportunities to see and experience the day to day practice in various specialties.  There are several ways to create these opportunities.  Many Clinical Medicine small group instructors and mentors invite students to shadow with them.  Participating in Specialty Interest Groups and the Medical Specialty Luncheons can also lead to shadowing and research opportunities.  The Alumni Association sponsors Career Exploration events and can also link students with physicians both locally and throughout the country who are willing to provide information and hands-on specialty experience.

Be sure to be an active participant in all of the WSU-SOM career planning events, since they provide you with the knowledge and experience necessary to make a well-informed specialty choice.