May 8, 2023

Mentorship Matters May 2023: When a mentee is facing micro and overt aggressions

Culture & Inclusion
Artistic rendering of person standing under umbrella under a rain cloud
By Dr. Catherine Yu

Imagine this scenario. A staff physician is reviewing a case with their colleague in the hallway of a fast-paced multidisciplinary clinic. There is a difference of opinion on appropriate clinical management plans, which escalates into the colleague raising their voice, speaking down to the staff physician and claiming superiority (“I’ve been a staff physician for number of years ; what do you know about the patient’s best interest?”) as well as veiled threats (“are you willing to take responsibility and tell my patient if your management plan causes this patient to have a stroke?”). The staff physician, dumbfounded by this turn of events given that guideline-based standard of care is being followed, silently stares up at the pointed finger. A clinic nurse interjects, admonishing both for disturbing the clinic and disrupting the care of other patients, and requesting to please take the altercation elsewhere. The patient, having overheard this, now is insecure about the management plan, wondering if their care is in the right hands. A trainee witnesses the entire event.

As a faculty member, what would you do in this situation? As a mentor, what advice would you share with your mentee if they seek your advice when experiencing similar situation? The Temerty Faculty of Medicine resource “Be an ally that C.A.R.E.S” outlines an approach:

Outline image of "Be an Ally that cares"

Stay tuned for the “answers” to this and other challenging situations with the launch of our Mentorship Masterclass entitled Mentoring during Adversity starring our VC of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Umberin Najeeb, and Education Dr. Arno Kumagai!

And yes, this really did happen – that staff physician was me, exactly 6 years ago, when I had been on staff for 9 years. In our next edition, stay tuned for “real life” resolution and upcoming resources, and remember – there is always room for growth.