I’ve had the privilege of having both amazing and anti-mentors (yes, it’s a word- ask around!), so it’s both my responsibility and great pleasure to pass on the great mentorship that I’ve had (and never become those things that were harmful!). I have the opportunity to mentor students in a number of ways at UCF, and my students are now graduated and out in the world, so I hope our relationships continue as they grow as colleagues and friends.
Here are a few of the mentoring relationships that I am so proud to have built here, and some of the students that I have the privilege of working with in this phase of their professional development:
The Social Work Healthcare Education And Leadership (HEALS) scholars– we’re on our 4th cohort, and every year I get to spend time with extraordinary social work students who are becoming amazing advocates for healthcare and social justice related issues. They visit Tallahassee and Washington D.C. for advocacy trips, and together we have hosted several public forums on healthcare and policy related issues- in particular, one on cultural barriers to care (in partnership with our med school colleagues), and one on aging and healthcare policy (in partnership with our Barry Law School & 9th Circuit court colleagues). Together, we have started some great conversations about important issues in our community!
The Apopka clinic student leadership team and the social work students and colleagues who join the clinic: Three times a year, we work with colleagues in medicine, nursing, PT, pharmacy, and the local Farmworkers Association to open a pop-up clinic that provides outpatient primary care, counseling, and referrals to people in the healthcare desert area of Apopka, FL. Most of our clients (50-150 each time) are uninsured or underinsured, and we increasingly see people who speak Spanish or Creole and are afraid to go to normal healthcare settings out of fear of arrest, even if they are legally present in the state. It’s a rough introduction for some students to the realities of life for those who make a living in low-income jobs/careers such as farmwork or housekeeping, who may not have health insurance, who may or may not have a stable citizenship or immigration status, and who may be living with tremendous stress and fear related to these and other family, health related, or financial pressures. The learning opportunity for students is tremendous, the care provided to patients at the clinic is excellent (and free), and the mentorship opportunities with the students before, during, and after this experience has given me new chances to grow and learn. I am better for having done this, and for having worked with these people.
I have the opportunity to take on a few medical students each year, as they work their way through the Focused Inquiry Research Experience (FIRE) in their first and second year of med school at UCF. Along the way, I’ve also picked up a few med students who just wanted to write together, and it’s been a great privilege to get to know them and support them as they develop into amazing physicians.
My students in social work occasionally get to do service learning or initiate general awesomeness in the community. I’ve worked with Macro classes in producing a health fair for our local homeless population, and the Phi Alpha honor society to raise funds, awareness, and supplies for local organizations. I love my Phi Alpha leadership team and each year, it’s a blast to see what they’ll plan next!
Those of us who have had career success have gotten where we are with the help of mentors, colleagues, and friends who lift us up, help us see things in new ways, and open doors. It is our responsibility to hold that door open for someone else.