Dear Weill Cornell Medicine Community,
Mentoring has been very important to me throughout my career and is one of my top priorities as dean. By fostering a vigorous and dynamic culture of mentorship throughout Weill Cornell Medicine, I believe that we can break through into the national arena as a triple-threat institution--at an even higher level than where we currently stand.
Mentoring is already central to academic medicine and its mission. Medical students, residents, and fellows gain valuable clinical skills by observing senior practitioners, discussing cases with supervisors, and honing techniques under guidance. Researchers at early stages of their careers acquire expertise by working in the labs of more established investigators. Education in all its forms entails the transmission of knowledge from one party to another--and a flow back in the other direction as well.
I want mentoring to take on even greater significance at Weill Cornell Medicine. In our present era, academic health systems like ours are becoming tightly integrated organizations, encompassing medical and graduate schools, teaching and affiliate hospitals, physician networks, ambulatory sites, and other partners. With increasing organizational complexity comes a need to use our existing resources as wisely and efficiently as possible.
Weill Cornell Medicine's greatest resource is its community--the faculty, staff, trainees, and students who strive for even greater levels of excellence every single day.
By embracing an ethic of mentorship at all levels and by collectively committing to sharing our expert knowledge with individuals at all stages of their careers, we can cut out the learning curve and accelerate growth across our mission. For example, we can develop clinical innovations with greater rapidity by nurturing trainees and helping to increase their productivity. We can bring new therapies to patients by showing junior colleagues how to launch clinical trials and startups. And we can inspire the next generation of leaders by taking the time to meet with them regularly, not just once a year.
Mentoring is more than advising and training--it's a way to sustain our academic programs, while giving back to the community. And it is our obligation to support our faculty, trainees, and students so that they achieve success within academic medicine and can lead the way for others in their turn.
Studies have sought to examine the impact of mentoring. A systematic review published in JAMA in 2006, for example, concluded that mentorship had an important effect on personal development, career guidance, career choice, and research productivity. Another recent study of formal programs found that having protected time for mentoring activities is important to both mentors and mentees. Still, additional research is needed to create a robust base of qualitative and quantitative evidence validating the benefits of mentoring.
Weill Cornell Medicine needs to lead the way in mentorship--by implementing formal programs, building an informal and pervasive culture, and raising awareness of the importance of knowledge exchange between generations. In the coming months, I will be exploring new ways to reward mentoring throughout our community and encourage you to reach out with suggestions on how we can encourage this most vital of activities. The goal is to ensure that collectively, we will continue to grow and advance in our mission to care, discover, and teach.
Augustine M.K. Choi, M.D.
Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean
Weill Cornell Medicine