For medical students, having a physician who serves as a mentor may be one of the most valuable resources on the path to becoming a doctor. Mentoring relationships are particularly important for minority students or students who are in a medical school that does have a department of family medicine.
Mentoring happens in both formal and informal settings. Some schools offer formal mentoring programs, special projects, or networking. More informal mechanisms may include leadership opportunities and special interest mentoring. Finding a family physician mentor in any of these categories may help in your path through school.
Students who are interested in connecting with active members of the AAFP may be interested in joining the AAFP's many special constituency discussion lists (AAFP login required). Members can subscribe to minority, women, GLBT, international, or new physician listservs to discuss issues of importance and network with active physicians.
Other examples of mentoring resources are listed below.
AMA Doctors Back to School(www.ama-assn.org) (login required) -- The American Medical Association has created the Doctors Back to School (DBTS) program to help inspire a new generation of physicians. The program sends minority physicians and medical students into the community to speak to younger students about the benefit of a career in medicine -- particularly for those in under-represented ethnic and racial groups. This site contains a list of questions children ask, a DBTS kit, FAQs about the program and a sample presentation that you can use as you promote family medicine.
AAMC Careers in Medicine(www.aamc.org) -- This online program, offered by the Association of American Medical Colleges, allows students to explore different specialties (such as family medicine), career options and practice settings as they navigate through different modules. Registration to use the site is free for those who have used other AAMC applications, such as the MCAT or AMCAS, but requires an access code for other users.
Tomorrow's Doctors(www.aamc.org) -- Also a service offered by the AAMC, Tomorrow's Doctors has numerous resources available to medical students and residents, including curriculum directories, clinical research training programs, data facts and figures, fee assistance programs, and blogs by medical students sharing first-hand experience.
AOA Mentor Exchange(www.osteopathic.org) -- The American Osteopathic Association's mentor program serves as a mechanism for two-way communication between osteopathic physicians and medical students. DOs offer their guidance and wisdom to medical students, and students in turn benefit from a mentor's knowledge and experience. This site allows users to find a mentor or sign up to be one. (Login required)
Georgia AFP Mentoring List(www.gafp.org) -- The Georgia Academy of Family Physicians recognized a need for students to be paired with physician mentors. They created a database of family physicians who are willing to serve as mentors for students in their area, and can pair students up with a mentor or shadowing experience in the state. Many chapters may be able to provide you with a list of physicians who are willing to serve as mentors.
Mentoring Tips(1 page PDF) -- Establishing a mentoring relationship with a knowledgeable professional can lead to increased success throughout students' medical education. The tips in this guide should help students choose the right mentor and define the relationship that is right for them.