The APA Mentorship Program: A Formative Experience

During my first year as an APA/APAF Public Psychiatry Fellow, I had already enjoyed several forms of mentorship with psychiatric leaders throughout APA. When I was presented with the opportunity to apply to the APA Mentorship Program during my second year of Fellowship, I wondered what other resources could be added to the wealth of information that I received from previous mentors within APA. Still, I was encouraged to apply and did so, curious to find out more about the program.

Now–half a year into the mentorship program–I'm happy to say that it has been a tremendous experience thus far! There are many benefits to the program that I could point out, but I'll focus on two of the most important here.

The first unique benefit of the APA Mentorship Program is that it formalizes the mentorship relationship. It pairs you with an APA leader who has an established mentorship record, requires you and your mentor to agree on a set of clearly outlined mentorship goals, and requires a minimum number of contacts between the mentor-mentee pair over one year.

Dr. Wiechers has provided me with invaluable insights on topics ranging from work-life balance to finding the perfect job after fellowship and continuing my involvement with APA. I have no doubt that I'll keep learning from her in the future."

Mary Vance, M.D.

In establishing these guidelines, I had confidence that my mentor, Ilse Wiechers, M.D., knew how to guide her mentees, had similar interests and goals as me, and would set aside regular times for us to check in. As a result, my formal mentorship relationship with Dr. Wiechers has become stronger and more productive than many of my informal mentorship relationships. Dr. Wiechers has provided me with invaluable insights on topics ranging from work-life balance to finding the perfect job after fellowship and continuing my involvement with APA. I have no doubt that I'll keep learning from her in the future.

The second unique benefit of this program is the thoroughness of its mentor-mentee matching process. Although I wasn't there to witness how the selection committee made its decisions, I've heard about the considerable time and thought that that the committee put into finding the right mentor for each mentee. The committee paid close attention to the detailed information that was provided by the mentor and mentee. It's clear from my match with Dr. Wiechers that they thought a lot about the "fit" before pairing us together. I was hoping for a female mentor with a career trajectory I would like to mirror, as well as broad experience in both research and policy–and I got just that! I couldn't be more satisfied with the pairing. I am grateful to the selection committee members for their devotion to this program.

The APA Mentorship Program has done an excellent job of providing a robust, individualized, formal mentorship experience. I'd strongly recommend applying for the program even if you feel–like I first did–that you have a wealth of mentors already. The quality of the mentorship in this program is unparalleled, and I'm confident that you’ll gain valuable insights by participating.

About the Author

Mary-Vance

Mary Vance, M.D.
2016-2018 Public Psychiatry Fellow

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