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Welcome to The Medicine Mentors interview series. Our mission is to create a platform for top physician mentors to share key insights, traits and best practices based on their experiences to guide medical students and residents.

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Aug 6, 2021

Dr. John Donnelly has had a career at ChristianaCare committed to excellence in medical education. After completing medical school at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Dr. Donnelly did his dual training in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at ChristianaCare and Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children. Dr. Donnelly has worked with countless medical students and residents in his roles as a Core Faculty member for Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and Associate Program Director and Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency. In Dr. Donnelly’s current role as the Director of Medical Education for ChristianaCare’s Department of Medicine, he works closely with the student, resident and fellowship programs, as well as serving as the lead for faculty and faculty development.

Medical students: you do a rotation in medicine and you love it! Next month, you have a surgical rotation. You love that too! Sound familiar? How do you decide what to pursue for residency? Today, Dr. John Donnelly shares that for many medical students, and even residents considering fellowship, they worked with an inspiring mentor that drove them toward that field. That’s certainly one way to choose. When Dr. Donnelly mentors students to help them decide, he approaches each mentoring relationship with an open mind and finds what’s exciting for the student: Is it longitudinal care? Procedural skills? Acute care? Reflecting on these questions can help students decide on their best career path.

Pearls of Wisdom:

1. It’s important to know what you want from a mentoring relationship. Have an agenda and take ownership of how often you meet and what you’ll discuss.
2. Build trust with patients by validating their concerns, whatever they are, and advocating for your patient. Then, empower them so they’re involved in their own care.
3. Success is about what your current goals are and you succeed by taking one step at a time towards them. Don’t make the status quo your new normal. Continue to strive towards accomplishing your goals.
4. The best trainees are those who give themselves to their patients and colleagues but also preserve themselves. And they have their own individual pursuits, so they don’t get burned out.