Message from Dean Richardson: Learning from each other, investing in success
10/01/09 Portland, OR
Throughout my career, I have received valuable guidance and advice from many people. As a medical student, advisors provided me with a wider lens into medicine that helped shape my career choices. Later, I learned the ropes from house officers and, as a junior faculty member, those senior to me generously helped me navigate the complicated terrain of academic medicine. Now, as dean, it's probably fair to say I receive more advice than ever, all of which is welcome.
Everyone can benefit from the wisdom gained by those who have gone before us, and those of us in senior positions can also benefit from the energy, enthusiasm and fresh perspectives of junior faculty and students. Even now, I strive to pay back the "debt" I accrued by mentoring those just getting started and by fostering the development of new leaders for academic medicine.
An article in JAMA showed the results of a systematic review of the effects of mentoring.1 It showed that mentorship can have an important influence on personal development, career guidance, career choice and research productivity, including publication and grant success. One of my goals for the School of Medicine is to support, enhance and formalize avenues for faculty members to receive the advice and input they want as they chart their own career path.
Academic medicine is changing fast as we appropriately embrace non-traditional career paths and other avenues for success that support work/life balance and respond to health care reform, technology advances and shifting funding priorities at NIH, among many other examples. Navigating a career in academic medicine is both more exciting and more challenging than ever before.
Given this complex terrain, the School of Medicine (in partnership with the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute, OCTRI) is investing in a program that will support faculty development, including mentoring resources and a seminar series. A core element of the new program is to support "Lead Mentors" who will be responsible for developing and implementing tailored mentoring programs and increasing mentoring capacity in departments or in cross-departmental initiatives. The Lead Mentors were selected based on a competitive application process. Congratulations – and thank you – to those participating. (Here is a link to the new mentoring Web site listing the workshops and seminars being offered this year.)
Strategically investing in on-campus mentoring and faculty development is an investment in your success. All of us can learn from one another, and even the most experienced among us can be inspired by new ideas coming from junior faculty and students. I encourage everyone to take advantage of these offerings, including the career perspectives and mentoring skills workshops, and to engage in the program to help shape its future so that it evolves over time to best meet our needs. Because when our faculty and students are successful at achieving their professional goals, the School, OHSU, Oregon and the world reap the health benefits of that success.
Dean, OHSU School of Medicine
President, Faculty Practice Plan
 Sambunjak D, Strauss SE, Marusie A. Mentoring in academic medicine: a systematic review. JAMA 2006;296:1103-1115.