It’s National Mentoring Month, an opportunity to help spread awareness about the importance of sharing knowledge and skills with a less experienced person to help them develop and gain new perspectives.
BayCare Clinic is no stranger to mentoring. Many specialists within the organization have been mentored along the way to their careers in medicine. Here are some of their experiences as mentees and mentors.
Dr. Sarah DiMezza
Dr. Sarah DiMezza is an emergency medicine physician with BayCare Clinic Emergency Physicians. As a medical student, she enrolled in the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine, a University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health program at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay. The program focuses on developing physician skills that are most vital to the needs of rural communities.
DiMezza credits her mentor, Dr. Steve Stroman, with aiding her journey through the program. Stroman, now retired, was one of her WARM instructors. He was an emergency medicine physician with BayCare Clinic.
“I think having a mentor is important,” DiMezza says. “To have someone introduce you to opportunities you may not have known about otherwise, to provide guidance to make the right choices along the way to have the career you set out to, and to help make those life-long connections for a fulfilling career.
“I got to meet a lot of local EMS/fire leaders, some of whom still stop me in the department to ask if I was that red-headed med student from several years ago.”
A mentor can help set or reinforce the bar for success, DiMezza says.
“Getting to work with Dr. Stroman to see what he was able to accomplish over his career has been a great inspiration for me as I am just getting started,” she says.
Dr. Alexander Foster
Dr. Alexander Foster is an ophthalmologist with BayCare Clinic Eye Specialists. He specializes in cataract treatments, refractive cataract surgery and premium intraocular lens implants. He also provides general eye care.
Foster appreciates the mentoring he received as he pursued a medical career. He still enjoys a mentoring relationship with one of his colleagues.
“My life has been deeply impacted by mentors professionally and personally,” Foster says. “There is no substitute for someone who has a genuine interest in your success, who has gone ahead of you providing an example of how to do something well and is gracious enough to offer you life lessons.
“Dr. Kevin Wienkers plays a pivotal role in my life as a mentor, both professionally and personally.” Wienkers also is an ophthalmologist with BayCare Clinic Eye Specialists.
That’s why Foster continues to pay it forward.
“I have mentored a lot of medical students along the way,” he says.
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Dr. Karri Adamson
Dr. Karri Adamson fondly remembers her time as a medical student with an influential mentor, Dr. Elizabeth O’Connor. Today, they are plastic surgeons and colleagues with Plastic Surgery & Skin Specialists by BayCare Clinic.
“Dr. O’Connor was a mentor to me when I was a medical student,” Adamson says. “I looked up to her in the way that she cared for her patients and her technical skills in the operating room, all while staying calm, organized, and efficient.”
Adamson was a student at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee while O’Connor was a resident. “She was a senior resident during my first two years of residency training.”
It was vital to have a mentor during those training years, Adamson says.
“It was important having someone to look up to in a specialty that I was considering; it allowed me to see myself in that role,” she says. “My time with Dr. O’Connor motivated me to pursue a career in plastic surgery, and I still go to her for advice and support.
“I didn’t imagine we would become colleagues, however I am not surprised, either. I feel like it was meant to be.”
Now Adamson, like many of her colleagues, embraces her role mentoring up-and-coming medical professionals.
“I love seeing them learn something new, gain confidence, and go out in the world ready to make a difference,” she says.
Dr. Cassandra Schandel
Dr. Cassandra Schandel is an emergency medicine physician with BayCare Clinic Emergency Physicians. She treats patients for all sorts of emergent conditions. She, like DiMezza, also was enrolled in the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine program at Aurora BayCare Medical Center.
Schandel credits several mentors with helping guide her to success, among them, Drs. Darren Heesacker and Bob Zemple, both emergency medicine physicians with BayCare Clinic.
“Being part of the WARM program allowed me to develop relationships with physicians who became mentors and later colleagues,” she says. “I was very fortunate to meet so many great mentors from many different specialties, especially emergency medicine.”
Advice from mentors helped carry Schandel through the challenges of her residency in emergency medicine and continues to help her today. She’s eager to create a similar experience for others, especially one special someone.
“I am happy to pass on all the great advice I’ve gotten to the next generation which includes my not-so-little brother, Zachariah Piper, who is currently a WARM student at Green Bay,” she says.