That Guy

Most of us had mentors who influenced us early on in our medical education- -the key person, or maybe persons, who started us on the path we took. Medicine, in the past, was much more like an apprenticeship. You found “that guy” that you wanted to be like and you learned from him, ultimately putting your own spin on what you learned. But he was your mentor, he got you started and if you were mature, you respected him for his teachings and were grateful. Too many people in medicine think that they did it all by themselves. They don’t appreciate their teachers. They don’t appreciate the educational effort these teachers/mentors gave. We need to think about our teachers and the one or two that made the big difference in our lives.

So what do Leadbelly, Guthrie, Dylan, and Springsteen have to do with mentorship? Almost every singer/songwriter can tell you who “that guy” was. In this list, the previous person was “that guy” for the next one. Of course, Leadbelly had his own “that guy” but I had to start somewhere. Think about who “that guy” was for you.

Now what about “those guys”? Those guys are: DaVinci, Einstein, DeBakey, Jobs. Those guys never really had a “that guy.” Sure, they had some people who preceded them and some people who they were influenced by, but by and large they each burst upon the scene like some supernova. Incidentally, two of them left the scene with a disease that we are familiar with, aortic aneurysm. Sometimes aneurysms burst like a supernova: Einstein, DeBakey. Most of us will never be “those guys,” but we can aspire to be that guy who has a major influence on a younger person. We can perhaps start them on their way to a venous education.

We, the First Wave, have spent the greater part of the last decade educating the Second Wave of venous practitioners, those individuals who were in practice and wanted to learn the management of venous disease. The Third Wave: fellows, residents, medical students – all have had some educational opportunities in the last five years, such as the Fellows Course in Venous Disease, some curriculum changes and some courses. They have only had some isolated experience on a personal level. We need to take it to the personal level. We need to be “that guy” to some of our younger trainees.

Sometimes we need to look back to understand where we should be going. In the next few issues of VEIN, we will ask some of our current vein leaders to write about their mentors, interview their mentors, and let us know what “that guy” did for them. In the Spring issue, I will be speaking with Syed Taheri, MD, and Herb Dardik, MD, to find out more about their mentors and how they became the inspiration for another generation of phlebologists.