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The Mentoring Tree

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There’s a recurring theme in MD-UPDATE that I call “the Mentoring Tree.” Nearly every physician we talk with has a “mentor” story to tell. Some of the mentors are their physician father or a family doctor growing up. Most frequently, the mentor shows up in medical school or during residency rotation.

Dr. David Bensema, president of the Kentucky Medical Association and past-president of the Lexington Medical Society, spoke passionately about mentoring in his address to the membership at the society’s past-presidents’ dinner. “Find a young physician to mentor,” Bensema said. “It will benefit you as well as them. It will re-kindle your interest and excitement for why you got into medicine in the first place.”

In the cover story of MD-UPDATE Issue #88, Linda Gleis, MD, who is past-president of the Greater Louisville Medical Society and has taken on many other roles in Kentucky medicine, recalled the influence of her mentors, such as Dr. Ken Peters on her decision to be involved in organized medicine. Dr. Linda Gleis herself is seen as a profoundly influential mentor of many physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists who came through U of L, as evidenced by Dr. Darryl Kaelin, current medical director of Frazier Rehab Institute and chief of the division of Physical Medicine & Rehab at U of L. Kaelin, we suggest, will one day be seen in a similar role, and so on it goes.

It’s common in sports now to talk and speculate on the “coaching tree” of established basketball and football coaches whose players, assistant coaches, and sons are now coaches. I laughed when I read that Richard Pitino, son of Rick and current coach of University of Minnesota’s basketball team, said that his famous father would probably try “to coach both teams at once” when the University of Louisville plays Minnesota on November 14. That’s a case of “mentoring” that won’t give up.

The point is mentoring is a deeply ingrained fact of a physician life. As Bensema said, “It’s our professional obligation. We are lifelong learners and educators. It’s our role to teach the next generation of doctors.”

So, who was your mentor? Who are you mentoring? Please contact me if you have a “mentoring story” you want to tell.

All the Best,Gil Dunn Publisher, MD-UPDATE

Send your letters to the editor to:,, or (502) 541-2666 mobile Gil Dunn, publisher: or (859) 309-0720 phone and fax