August 2023 

The role of dermatology mentors for junior doctors

During my year as a dermatology teaching fellow, I embarked on a transformative journey that not only shaped my understanding of the specialty but also underscored the immense value of mentorship.

Learning beyond the textbooks

Dermatology is a visually oriented specialty, often requiring astute clinical observation and pattern recognition. While textbooks lay the groundwork, mentorship allows aspiring dermatologists to grasp the nuances that are difficult to capture on paper. From identifying subtle skin conditions to mastering the art of dermatologic surgery, mentors play a vital role in imparting clinical gems that comes from years of experience.

While textbooks lay the groundwork, mentorship allows aspiring dermatologists to grasp the nuances that are difficult to capture on paper.

Navigating career choices

The field of dermatology offers a diverse range of career paths. Having mentors who have trodden these different paths can provide invaluable advice and guidance in making career decisions. They can also shed light on the pros and cons of each specialisation, helping mentees make informed choices that align with their interests and aspirations.

Building resilience and confidence

The early stages of a career in dermatology can be daunting. Having a mentor to turn to for advice and encouragement can boost confidence and resilience in the face of challenges. A mentor provides a safe space for discussing doubts, fears, and uncertainties, reminding the mentee that every successful dermatologist has faced obstacles along the way. This support network strengthens their resolve to overcome hurdles and persevere in their pursuit of excellence.

A supportive professional network

Mentorship in dermatology fosters a sense of community and support among colleagues. Through mentorship programs, dermatologists can forge strong connections with their peers, creating a network of professionals who can collaborate, share knowledge, and seek guidance when faced with challenging cases. This supportive ecosystem not only benefits individual physicians but also enhances the overall quality of patient care.

Mentorship in dermatology fosters a sense of community and support among colleagues.

Cultivating ethical practice and patient care:

Observing ethical dilemmas handled by mentors, and learning from their approach to patient interactions, can shape the mentee's approach to delivering care with empathy and sensitivity.

Aspiring dermatologists should therefore maximise the benefits of mentorship through active engagement and initiative:

  1. Seek out the right mentor: Look for a mentor who shares similar interests, values, and career goals. Compatibility between the mentor and mentee fosters a more meaningful and productive relationship.

  2. Be Open to Feedback: Embrace constructive feedback and use it as a tool for improvement. Remember, a mentor's guidance comes from a place of wanting to see the mentee succeed.

  3. Set Clear Goals: Establish specific goals and expectations for the mentorship relationship. Outline what you hope to achieve, both short-term and long-term.

  4. Be Proactive: Take the initiative in the mentorship. Reach out to your mentor regularly, seek advice, and update them on your progress.

  5. Show Gratitude: Recognise the time and effort your mentor invests in your growth. Express appreciation for their support and guidance.

As I reflect on my experiences, I am grateful for the invaluable mentorship I have received during my career. The guidance, support, and wisdom offered by my mentors have significantly shaped my understanding of dermatology and have prepared me for a fulfilling career in the field. Mentorship in dermatology is not just about imparting knowledge; it is about nurturing the next generation of dermatologists, instilling in them the values of compassion, precision, and lifelong learning.

Dr Nada Khalil

Dr Nada Khalil is a junior doctor currently working at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.  She graduated from Bristol University Medical School in 2020. After completing her medical degree, she went on to complete her foundation years training in the North West London Deanery.  Nada's strong interest in dermatology and medical education subsequently led her to pursue a Dermatology Clinical Teaching fellow job at Charing Cross Hospital. She currently leads the Undergraduate Dermatology Teaching program for Imperial College and has taken a lead in setting up a virtual dermatology teaching programme aimed at addressing educational gaps in postgraduate dermatology education. 

Dr Nada Khalil, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust 

Find Nada on LinkedIn here.

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