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Looking Forward

Transitioning from being a mentee to a mentor

As we hear stories, we learn lessons. And as we share those lessons, new stories are born.

By Cameron T. Bubar, DO, MPH


“Get off your brother’s bike; it is too big for you,” advised my mom.

“No, it’s not,” I replied.

And in that exact moment, the bike with me on it tumbled toward a tree.

It is important to realize that the advice you receive doesn’t always have to apply to your specific situation at hand. You’ll receive tons of advice over the years. Sometimes, it’s the perfect solution to a difficult problem or transition in life. Other times, it’s something that worked well for another but is not necessarily for you. You get to decide.

Now, a chin full of simple-interrupted sutures and my mom at the bedside having planted seeds for my future life in emergency medicine, I am still deciding if that was advice I should have embraced (just kidding, always listen to your mother).

The transition from being a mentee to a mentor is a natural progression in life for most of us. As we hear stories, we learn lessons. And as we share those lessons, new stories are born. Mentors have been with me and guided me through every stage in my life.

My gym teacher would always say people aren’t lucky, they are prepared. Proper planning prevents poor performance. You are lucky because you prepared yourself, or someone prepared that luck for you.

My principal investigator would drive home productivity by talking about Pebbles and Stones. Stones are the large life tasks that require dedicated focus. Pebbles are the smaller, lighter tasks you can complete with a few moments here and there. Always carry a pebble or two with you everywhere you go.

My grad school professor introduced me to the fear-bravery paradox. Things that are outside our comfort zones elicit fear within us, but as we embrace these opportunities bravery is portrayed. We feel fear; they see bravery.

My academic advisor storied the old expression, “el camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.” The shrimp that falls asleep, gets taken in the current. A welcomed reminder to keep moving forward.

Now transitioning myself into more roles with mentoring moments, I get to pay homage to those before me by re-telling their stories to anyone in earshot.

As I approach the end of my residency and imagine life as an attending, I realize this is likely the first time in my life where my path has not previously been mapped out for me by the process. As I excitingly create new goals, and new stepping stones toward new destinations, I hear the echoes of my mentors and lean on their guidance, embracing their advice whenever the shoe fits.

Dr. Bubar is a PGY3 Chief Resident in Emergency Medicine at ChristianaCare.