Connecting the Critical Care Team Through Mentorship

As a multiprofessional community, teamwork plays an important role in critical care. The diversity of skill sets, experience, and knowledge that make up the critical care team requires collaboration—specifically in the delivery of care, research, and professional development.

Whether a novice or senior in your career, participating in a mentorship program is a collaborative opportunity to grow professionally. The mentor-mentee relationship offers a variety of benefits to participants, including:

  • Creating a network of support: Both mentors and mentees can benefit from having someone to talk to about daily pressures, research projects, work-life balance, and other challenges.
  • Networking opportunities: Mentorship programs offer both mentors and mentees new contacts and an expanded network for collaborative projects and research. Mentor-mentee pairings do not have to be limited to the same department or institution.
  • Professional development: Mentorship develops communication skills and offers mentees the opportunity to receive feedback and recognize areas of strength and weakness. It also provides mentees with a resource to bounce ideas off of and go to for advice and recommendations.
  • Career guidance: Both mentors and mentees can reflect on their careers through these programs. Mentees can receive guidance in their employment search or assistance in determining a career path and discuss how their next steps align with personal and career goals. Mentors also gain insight into their own level of growth and current issues that colleagues are facing at a different stage in their career.
Based on these benefits, it is no surprise that mentorship programs are growing in popularity among Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) specialty sections and chapters. The SCCM Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology (CPP) Section launched the first mentorship program in 2006. Its Mentorship Program Toolkit is now available in the SCCM Connect Library at sccm.org/Connect.

In response to membership interest in increasing participation and developing more professional relationships, SCCM’s Southeast (SCCMSE) Chapter—which represents Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee—launched its mentor-mentee program in March 2019. The first “class” of mentor-mentees will be matched later this spring.

“We wanted our program to be multiprofessional to specifically reflect the team dynamics commonly encountered in our intensive care unit workplaces,” shared Ellen Huang, PharmD, who is leading the SCCMSE Chapter’s new mentorship program.

For program participants, it provides a valuable experience for both the mentor and the mentee. “Practitioners or trainees early in their career benefit from having an experienced individual available to answer questions, provide guidance, and offer ideas on continued professional growth,” said Dr. Huang. “Participation as a mentor can enhance job satisfaction, strengthen communication skills, and provide an opportunity for self-reflection.”

Highlighting the benefits of becoming an involved chapter member, Dr. Huang continued, “Not only does this program offer our members an opportunity to build their professional network, it will also provide an avenue for those looking to increase participation within the SCCMSE Chapter.”

For those seeking mentorship opportunities, or SCCM sections and chapters interested in setting up a mentorship program, Dr. Huang advises, “The foundation for a strong program starts with gathering feedback from the membership to see what his or her specific needs are, then developing the framework of the program based on this feedback.” The program should consider the needs of both mentors and mentees. Dr. Huang also advises providing regular opportunities for feedback once the program is underway so it can evolve and continue to meet participant needs.

“Everybody deserves to have a professional mentor, and hopefully as more mentor-mentee programs are implemented there will be an increased opportunity to do so,” Dr. Huang concluded. For more information about the SCCMSE Chapter’s mentor-mentee program, visit sccmse.org.