ASA’s Committee on Professional Diversity celebrates mentoring in anesthesiology by awarding grants of up to $5,000 for mentor/mentee pairs to work on a project that addresses the mission and goals of the committee. These awards foster the development of future leaders within the specialty and the society, and many projects have gone on to have a lasting impact beyond the scope of the initial award.

Mary E. Arthur, MD, FASE, FASA

Mentorship goes beyond providing guidance and support. It can be a catalyst for systemic change. By nurturing the talents and aspirations of minority medical students and residents, we contribute to a more diverse and inclusive health care workforce. In the last few years, it has been an incredibly rewarding experience to have received ASA Committee on Professional Diversity (CPD) Mentoring Grants, which have enabled me to collaborate with bright, motivated minority residents and medical students, guiding them through their professional development.

As we strive to bridge the gap in provider-patient discordance, the experiences and insights afforded by this opportunity have made me aware of the crucial role of mentorship in fostering a more inclusive health care environment and addressing health care disparities. The involvement of the mentees in research, leadership roles, and community outreach enhanced their skills and visibility in anesthesiology. Our first project aimed to understand and address latent biases toward Asian patients and health care professionals that surfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The second mentee focused on equipping anesthesia professionals with the skills needed to assess patients through a lens of cultural competency in the time-limited, fast-paced perioperative setting. This initiative aimed to improve patient-provider communication and ensure that cultural considerations are integrated into preoperative care. The discordance between the racial and ethnic backgrounds of health care professionals and their patients was the focus of our next project. The resident and medical student team aimed to spark an early interest in health care among underrepresented minorities by hosting a day camp involving workshops and financial aid discussions and introducing them to summer programs that expose young students to various health care fields. Our most recent projects aim to address health equity in maternal health and the impact of social determinants of health in stroke intervention. In addition, we focused on integrating population health management into anesthesiology residency training to equip future anesthesiologists with the tools to address maternal health disparities in racial and ethnic minority communities. Each project, with its unique focus and challenges, has highlighted the importance of diversity, cultural competency, and innovation in health care.

The process involves meeting with a mentee who has shown research interest and is motivated and determined to see the project through. We work together on the application and institutional review board submission logistics. Once our project is accepted, we have several meetings to discuss addressing the root causes of health issues, implementing strategies to improve the health of entire communities, and advocating for equitable health care in underserved populations. Three of our projects were submitted as abstracts at ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2023, with the project “Sparking an Early Interest in Health Care Among Underrepresented Minorities” selected for an oral presentation.

The mentorship journey is rewarding and filled with opportunities to make a meaningful impact and shape our mentees’ futures while contributing to their growth and development. My role as a mentor is to empower them to become advocates for change by understanding the broader issues of population health and health care disparities. Seeing themselves reflected in their mentors and leaders can be incredibly empowering. It provides a sense of belonging and validation that their experiences and perspectives are valued.

Caryl Bailey, MD

Mentorship and intentional diversity in anesthesiology are the cornerstones of the ASA CPD Mentoring Grant. My journey as a recipient has been a unique and transformative one, showcasing my evolution from a mentee to a mentor within this program. It has provided me unique insights, allowing me to contribute to these initiatives while advancing my professional growth.

The CPD emphasizes the significance of mentorship in career development. The grant stipulations for mentees served as a catalyst for my eventual transition to a mentor role for my subsequent grant application by encouraging ASA and committee involvement.

The grant is notable for the variety of projects it supports, spanning medical education and clinical research. For my initial application, I received support for a simulation-based pipeline program designed to introduce junior medical students to the specialty of anesthesiology early in medical school. Recognizing the need for intentional diversity, I partnered with the student arms of the National Medical Association and the American Medical Women’s Association to recruit students from underrepresented backgrounds for this early exposure opportunity. The positive feedback received underscored the importance of hands-on experiences and the value of diversity in enriching educational opportunities.

As a mentee awardee, I had the opportunity to mentor residents who played pivotal roles in executing the workshop by serving as teachers for the medical students. This mentorship experience seamlessly transitioned into my decision to apply as a mentor two years later.

As a mentor, I had the privilege of mentoring first- and fourth-year medical students with a passion for anesthesiology. The grant facilitated their attendance at ANESTHESIOLOGY 2023, allowing them to benefit from participating in the medical student track and present their posters. One poster discussing the preliminary data for our funded project was selected as a featured abstract presentation. At the annual grant reception, they had the opportunity to interact with society leadership. This early exposure strengthened their interest in the specialty and highlighted the importance of active engagement in professional societies and organized medicine for future career development. Collaborating with my mentees, we are currently undertaking a project focused on cardiac surgical outcomes in minority populations.

The matched mentee/mentor pair should submit the application form, their individual curriculum vitae, and a one- to two-page description of their project to the ASA Committee on Professional Diversity no later than June 30, 2024. The submission should include a detailed description of the project’s objective and methods along with an explanation of how it will enhance the professional growth and leadership potential of the mentee.