Mentorship: Growth, Opportunity and Development
The Johns Hopkins Community Physicians (JHCP) Diversity Council has a hand in many projects and initiatives, and in fiscal year 2020, development of a JHCP mentorship program was a significant undertaking.
Melissa Helicke, chief operating officer, vice president of practice operations and JHCP Diversity Council co-leader, says there is ample literature about the positive impact that mentors can have on a person’s professional development. Although it is open for all to participate, the mentorship program aims to help underrepresented minorities connect with mentors who can help with career growth and professional development. Ultimately, the Diversity Council’s vision is to provide deliberate connections for mentees to progress into senior positions so that the diversity of JHCP’s leadership team better reflects the diversity of our employees and patients. “We believe it is important to have diversity of thought and experience at all levels of the organization, including the director and executive levels,” Helicke says.
After researching similar projects from other Johns Hopkins Medicine member organizations and other academic health systems, the mentorship program workgroup laid out the basics of the program. In defining roles, the group decided that practice administrators, office medical directors and managers who supervise could be eligible mentees. Eligible mentors would be selected from director-level positions and above. The workgroup promoted the program during JHCP leadership meetings and reviewed candidate applications. Five pairs of mentors and mentees comprised the inaugural year’s program. Mentees could choose their mentor in a speed-dating-like event during a kickoff meeting. “This allowed mentees to choose someone who they felt connected with, and someone whose experiences match their career interest,” says Lashardian Byers, an operational education project administrator in the Department of Education and Training and a project workgroup member.
The workgroup created an extensive list of resources and tools for participants. The team wanted to provide structure and direction, but also wanted to ensure that relationships would be formed naturally, and not forced, which the group learned is important during its preliminary research. To do so, the workgroup developed meeting outlines to guide conversations. Pairs were not required to turn in these worksheets and tools, but could use them as they deemed fit.
Helicke says this project is unique because it was developed by a diverse, grass-roots team. Workgroup members are employed at all levels of the organization, and they brought different perspectives to light during the program’s development.
After its first few months, both Byers and Helicke had positive impressions of the mentorship program’s impact. Its participants do, too. Office medical director and mentee Stephen Martin says he joined the program to get connected with a mentor beyond his day-to-day interactions. “The program has helped me to verbalize some of my personal and professional thoughts and goals,” he says. Martin’s mentor supported him as he developed and presented a plan to expand office space at his practice. Martin continues, “Through the mentorship program, JHCP can continue to promote and encourage leadership and help foster new relationships among the leaders we currently have.”
Program leaders agree, and they have visions of expanding the program to continue to promote professional growth and representation on JHCP’s leadership teams.
More Comments from Mentorship Program Participants
"Mentoring outside of the direct report relationship has opened me up to new and different conversations that I have taken back to my own staff which have proven to be beneficial."
"As a mentor, I'm able to offer insight into how the mentee can manage, learn and grow, but I also learn so much from the mentee that I can use. Being a mentor helps remind and reinforce my own style and practice when working with my direct reports."
"The ability to have an outside perspective on daily administrative activities... has offered the chance to discuss perspectives outside of what I generally have in the usual day to day."
"The Mentorship Program has been wonderful during a pandemic. It has been a great support system to discuss challenges, bounce ideas off one another, and learn from different regions. The JHCP Mentorship Program has also been great at connecting mentees with resources such as how to get involved with committees, who to reach out to for help, etc."
"I have enjoyed working with my mentor. She has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone to seek out opportunities to develop professionally."
"During the pandemic I've had to alter my coaching/mentoring as my team has encountered many different challenges, work and personal, changing their approach to their job. My mentee and I discussed this challenge early on and how we should adapt our style and approach to fit the new external challenges."