After a decade each of serving on many committees and presidential working groups, our work in the ARHP is not over. In fact, we have discovered that our educational and professional motivation to improve research and educate our students has nearly one hundred-percent overlap with the ongoing goals of the ARHP to support the graduate students and young investigators and to sponsor new members. The ARHP offers several opportunities for you to mentor a student, colleague, or non-member through the ARHP Graduate Student Award Program, the Member-Get-a-Member Campaign, and the REF grants programs for health professionals.
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Explore This IssueMay 2009
A Cycle of Give and Take
Over the years, we have spent a fair amount of time on the front lines of research—working on other people’s projects, collecting data, interviewing patients, and programming and conducting statistical analyses—and, through our ARHP membership, we have also benefited from the mentorship of colleagues who are senior researchers in our fields.
As much as we value the benefits of being mentees, we know it is also vitally important that we serve as mentors to the next generation of rheumatology health professionals. Coming to this realization led us to a commitment of mentoring, which is simply reaching out to those who are at various stages in their careers (e.g., graduate students, medical students, postdocs, new investigators, and non-members) and offering guidance based on your own knowledge and experience.
You may wonder, “If this is an unfunded activity, what motivates a researcher to educate and mentor?” As research mentors, we are enthusiastic about recognizing the creative research of junior investigators and students as their efforts merge evidence, theory, and clinical practice in assessing and improving the lives of patients with rheumatic diseases. Their wonderfully inspired ideas allow us to hone our own research skills by commenting on their ideas and work as they grow and evolve.
As much as we value the benefits of being mentees, we know it is also vitally important that we serve as mentors to the next generation of rheumatology health professionals.
In addition to helping our mentees with specific projects and offering advice based on our own knowledge and experience, we know that another important aspect of mentoring is serving as a source of guidance for our mentees’ career paths. As mentors, we find it very important to encourage students to participate in the ARHP Graduate Student Award Program, and if they’re not a member, to join the ARHP. We encourage membership and involvement in the ARHP because we have experienced, firsthand, the value of the ARHP and the many benefits it offers.
Mentors place these benefits high on the list of opportunities they want for their mentees because they come at a reduced price that is much more economical than any other “tuition” they will ever pay.
Why We Still Make Time to Mentor
As mentors, we expand our students’ world of learning as we guide and educate them and as we introduce them to our own mentors in the field. As National Institutes of Health/Canadian Institutes of Health Research–funded researchers and educators at our own institutions, we find our role as mentors to be rewarding and exactly what is needed in today’s challenging funding arena.
We are at a juncture where it is crucial to enthusiastically support research training to recruit and retain young, promising researchers in the field and help them establish a track record of grants and publications. We fully believe that the seeds planted early in a research career will bear bountiful and continuing returns over time.
We follow the careers and successes in clinical research of each of the young researchers we have mentored with great pride, and it is safe to say that not one mentee has ever let us down in his or her quest for answers. We marvel at their capacity to set and surpass goals.
We appreciated having the ears (and brains) of accomplished, senior investigators interested in our research, and aim to foster collegial exchanges among all levels of researchers to support the growth of young investigators. The future of rheumatologic care and research is in the hands of the talented young professionals who join our association and who walk the halls of your institutions. Their research and teaching efforts hold great promise for our field and our future, and we are proud to serve as mentors to the next generation.
For more information on how you can mentor the next generation of rheumatology health professionals, visit www.rheumatology.org/ARHP.
Dr. Hannan, of the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School in Boston, served as ARHP president in 1997–1998. Dr. Backman, of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, served as ARHP president in 2005–2006.