Navigating A Career in Academia Through Mentorship

As trainees, we are often informed of the value of good mentorship early on in our career, however it is often placed upon us to identify a mentor for ourselves.

Throughout my educational career, the process of establishing a relationship with a potential mentor has been challenging due to a variety of factors including lack of commitment, varying interests and personality differences. However, my experience with the APA Mentorship Program has been different; it reduces all the potential barriers which makes forming mentoring relationships difficult as a trainee. The Program matched me with a mentor whose career interests aligns with my career trajectory and who is committed to helping me further explore my career interests in psychiatry.

My mentor played a vital role in flushing out my interest in community adult and child psychiatry and has also provided feedback regarding potential practice settings."

Christine Crawford, M.D., M.P.H.

It was clear that APA was thoughtful in their approach in matching me with my mentor, Dr. Michelle Durham, given that she is located in close proximity to myself. We are allowed to have monthly dinner meetings in which we discuss matters regarding my career and personal development. The ease in which I have been able to openly discuss my trials and tribulations associated with paving my career path has been surprising—given that, as a trainee, I have rarely an opportunity to have candid conversations about the realities of career development.

As a woman of color at one of the nation's top academic institutions, it has been difficult to find mentors who are able to fully understand the added burden and challenges that are inherent while navigating academia as a person of color. I have been pleased by my mentor's ability to discuss issues related to race and career advancement, given that there have been limited opportunities for me to have such open discussions.

My mentor has also played a vital role in flushing out my interest in community adult and child psychiatry and has also provided feedback regarding potential practice settings. It has been a pleasure and a blessing to have the ability to readily access an attending with a wealth of knowledge rooted in personal and career experience. This relationship with Dr. Durham has continued to fuel my desire to provide psychiatric care to communities of color as well as to continue to participate in scholarly activities to further advance myself within academia. I thank the APA Mentorship Program for helping me to form a mentorship that will hopefully last way beyond the SAMSHA APA Minority Fellowship program.

About the Author


Christine Crawford, M.D., M.P.H.
2016-2018 APA/APAF SAMHSA Minority Fellow

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