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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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Nov 24, 2020

Dr. Sanjay Saint is the George Dock Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan and Chief of Medicine at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. Dr Saint completed his Medical school at UCLA and Residency and Chief Residency in Internal Medicine at UCSF. He was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Washington where he also received his Masters in Public Health. His research focuses on patient safety, implementation science, and medical decision-making; he has authored over 350 peer-reviewed papers. He serves on the editorial board of multiple peer-reviewed journals including the BMJ Quality & Safety and NEJM Catalyst. He has been awarded the Distinguished Mentor Award from the University of Michigan, and has received the National VA Physician of the Year Award.

Our success in a career in medicine is heavily influenced by the mentors who we choose to surround ourselves with. But the challenge is finding and building relationships with said mentors. Today, Dr. Sanjay Saint teaches us the science and the art of finding a great mentor. The science being: The past is a great predictor of the future. Most great mentors will have a track record of positively impacting other mentees. The art is: Following our gut instincts, How do I feel when I’m in the presence of a potential mentor? Do I feel positive, supported, and seen? If the answer is yes, we should listen to our instincts—and trust our hearts. As Dr. Saint puts it, we’ve gotten this far as humans by trusting our instincts with individuals, whether it’s with friendship, love, or business. Those instincts are finely honed—and we should respect and trust them.

Pearls of Wisdom:

1. Practice mindfulness during our hand wash. During that time, reflect on the way you have the ability to change the atmosphere in the room you are about to enter. And when you get into the patient’s room, be fully present: Don’t think about the previous or the next patient. Give that patient your time.
2. Everyone is an expert in something, and we can learn something from everyone. Pay attention to each interaction with another person—there is always something new to learn.
3. The key to finding a great mentor is a balance of science and art. Science in the way that the past is a great predictor of the future: Great mentors will likely have a great track record. And art is where our gut feelings will help us: How do we feel in a mentor’s presence? If it’s a positive feeling, trust that and move forward.