On Wednesday night at 9PM EST, the students of physical therapy once again convened to discuss the topic of the week- Student Mentorship. Some questions raised were ‘does your DPT program have an organized mentorship/buddy program?’ and ‘how has this helped you? Are you a mentor to someone in a class below you? What do you do help them and motivate them?’ Looks like many schools engage in a structured mentorship program with 1st and 2nd year students, much like we have at the University of Pittsburgh. Like us, those ‘upper classmen’ can assist incoming grad students with everything from housing and book recommendations to test strategies and clinical advice. Without question, all who experienced this mentorship during the transition from undergrad to graduate studies were very appreciative of having the guiding hand from those who have been there before. Considering this, it raises an interesting question regarding the next step in mentorship- after graduation!
From 3rd Year to Real-World
The conversation quickly evolved into mentorship during the next transition we’ll all experience, from 3rd year to licensed practitioner. Of course, we’ve all developed meaningful and lasting relationships between some of the upper classmen and faculty, but nearly all who participated in the #DPTstudent chat claimed their university lacked a formal mentorship program for new grads. This is surprising considering the value we place in having this experience while starting school; why the lack of mentorship upon finishing? Many students also reported being coached into formally incorporating mentorship into their first jobs with blocked hours set aside to discuss difficult patients with seasoned clinicians. However, there were also stories about promises left unkept and facilities lacking time to provide the guidance to new hires.
Start of Something New?
What might be a good solution is to start compiling an alumni database that contains information regarding the graduating classes from the past 5 years. Then, when graduates from the University of Pittsburgh seek advice in a particular area of practice or region of the United States, the faculty can pair them with an appropriate mentor. This would strengthen our alumni network and 3rd year experience- hopefully bettering the practice of both in the process. Who knows, maybe this #DPTstudent chat has led to the start of something new?