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Resident's Forum
February 2015

Surgical Mentorship From Mentee to Mentor: Lessons From the Life of Alfred Blalock, MD

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of General Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee
JAMA Surg. 2015;150(2):98-99. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2014.2068

Mentorship is a dynamic relationship between 2 individuals aimed at fostering the development of the less experienced person. Mentorship is a vital component of success in complex endeavors in which confidence and experience are integral to the process. Mentorship is especially critical for surgical residents.

A systematic review by Sambunjak et al1 examining the evidence supporting mentorship in medicine showed a correlation to career choice, career progression, and productivity. Furthermore, 40% of graduates from general surgery programs identified mentor guidance as an important component in personal development, research productivity, and success.1 While surveys bring attention to the importance of mentorship, surgical history also provides salient examples of the benefits of establishing meaningful relationships early in training. To gain perspective on the importance of productive mentoring relationships, we describe how mentorship influenced and defined the successful career of Alfred Blalock, MD.