Mentorship is important and beneficial to every healthcare professional. Its impact on underrepresented students and professionals can transform the trajectory of their careers. R. Alexander Blackwood, MD, has provided incomparable guidance to the next generation of underrepresented healthcare professionals in his role as Faculty Director for the Leaders and Learners Pathways Program in the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion.
“I had been feeling discouraged about the lack of research opportunities on campus, and while speaking with Dr. Blackwood, he encouraged me that rather than wait for the opportunity to show itself, ‘go out and create it yourself’. . . Dr. Blackwood’s mentorship consists of-challenging his mentees to not just witness change happening, but to be the leaders creating the change,” said Fatima Saad, prospective medical school student and Michigan Health Sciences Summer Institute participant.
Recently, Dr. Blackwood received the 2021 MICHR Distinguished Clinical and Translational Research Mentor Award for the impact his mentorship has had on faculty, staff and learners across the institution.
Words of Wisdom from Dr. Blackwood:
Dig deep from within: Mentorship is not a cloning operation with the goal of making your mentee just like you. The real goal is to help the mentee find themselves by fully understanding their true potential.
Rise to the occasion: If they are worthy of making the journey, then they are capable of excellence. Demand it of them and, most importantly, force them to demand it of themselves.
Self-generated success: Give students the space to define excellence in a manner that is informed by their personal passions. Encourage them to articulate how their defined excellence will engender pride and a true sense of accomplishment.