Building a Personal Connection: The Mentoring Philosophy of Nancy Ascher, M.D., Ph.D.

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Dr. (Nancy) Ascher excels in her role as Chair of Surgery, not only for her inexplicable foresight, but because she stays connected to trainees and students. This year, Dr. Ascher received the Francis Moore Excellence in Mentorship in the Field of Transplantation Surgery Award from the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.

Residents and fellows noted that Dr. Ascher is an effective mentor because she treats them like colleagues and not just trainees. Residents and fellows felt “immersed and integral in the program which empowered them and helped their growth.” Dr. Ascher emphasizes that a meaningful mentor-mentee relationship allows an honest exchange about the student’s career path and the mentor’s willingness to be that student’s advocate.

But how personal can a mentorship be, or is it strictly a professional relationship? Dr. Ascher believes that “elements of caring, friendship come from a good mentorship.” However, she acknowledges the fine line that exists to protect the privacy and separate personal lives of the mentor and mentee. The role of an effective mentor is not to judge the mentee but to get to know the student, so that the mentor can advise the student appropriately. Opening up to a mentor helps students understand what’s realistic and reasonable for them.”   Excerpted from Synapse, the UCSF student-run weekly

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