During Michael Adjei’s first year of medical school, he found himself in an operating room watching his physician mentor John Dahl, MD, PhD, MBA, perform a tonsillectomy procedure. The procedure was routine for Dr. Dahl, a pediatric otolaryngologist, but opened up a whole new way for Adjei to learn. By quizzing Adjei on the different muscles involved in the procedure, Dr. Dahl uniquely prepared Adjei to study for an upcoming anatomy exam.
Dr. Dahl was one of 24 physician mentors honored at IU School of Medicine’s Physician Mentor Recognition Event on April 18, 2018. Named an Outstanding Physician Mentor, Dr. Dahl’s impact on Adjei highlights the unique experiences and resources physician mentors provide to medical students.
“Dr. Dahl deserves the Outstanding Physician Mentor award because he has gone above and beyond to mentor me, and his pieces of advice are what have made me successful up to this point of my academic career,” Adjei said. “With Dr. Dahl’s guidance in my academic and personal life as well as research and community service projects, I was recently awarded the IUPUI Dr. Martin Luther King I Have A Dream Award.”
Physician mentor of the year
At the awards ceremony, John T. Finnell, MD, received the Physician Mentor of the Year award. This award is the highest honor bestowed upon a physician mentor. It highlights Dr. Finnell’s efforts to ensure the medical students he mentors are successful.
“Dr. Finnell always sets up dinners with me and his other three mentees. He caters to our schedules even though he is very busy,” fourth-year medical student Melanie Wiseman said. “Dr. Finnell is always available if one of us has a concern or problem we need help with or just to talk through future plans. He is kind and compassionate to his patients, co-workers and students. He takes the time to get to know all his mentees – our family life, our hobbies, things outside of medical school and what residency we want to pursue.”
Faculty dedicated to student success
Some physician mentors are volunteer faculty. These mentors balance volunteering with full-time clinical or research careers, or enjoy giving back during retirement. These faculty volunteer their time because they want to make a difference in student educational experiences. Gerald Wehr, MD, a retired pediatrician, volunteers his time mentoring medical students in West Lafayette.
“I volunteer as a physician mentor because I like to get to know medical students and share my experiences as a physician with them,” Dr. Wehr said. “I’ve really enjoyed inviting the students I mentor to my house for dinner. It gives me a chance to get to know them better and is a great opportunity for them to discuss what is going on in their lives! The Physician Mentor Program is a great way to stay connected with IU School of Medicine’s medical community — especially as a retired physician.”
The Physician Mentor Program began in 2015 as a way to connect medical students with a positive role model who supports them through medical school, provides one-on-one mentoring and a social connection to IU School of Medicine. All IU School of Medicine medical students are assigned to a physician mentor during their first year. Students continue to connect with their physician mentor during all four years of medical training. Interested in becoming a physician mentor? Apply to become a physician mentor today!