Core values

The following vignettes are designed to illustrate the importance of having shared core values and beliefs with your mentee or mentor.

Core value illustration A

Heidi has just finished her residency and is moving to a medium-size suburban community 800 miles from where she trained. Her program director, Frank, recommended she contact Eleanor, a close friend of Frank’s for many years. Eleanor has been in a successful private practice for 25 years. Eleanor has made herself available to help Heidi establish a new practice as well as introduce her to the medical community. The relationship is a cordial, informal mentorship, and they share many core values, priorities, goals and hobbies.

Three months later it is time to do the call schedule to cover hospital and ER consults.  All the community dermatologists have agreed to share this responsibility between them. Eleanor has the responsibility to make the on-call schedule this quarter. She calls Heidi to identify the most convenient two weeks to cover during this time period. Heidi flatly refuses to take any hospital call. Eleanor calmly says that it is Heidi’s responsibility to her patients, the community and her medical colleagues to participate in the on-call schedule. Heidi refuses, but quickly invites Eleanor to lunch the next day.  Is this a difference of opinion or a difference of principles?

Core value illustration B

Jack, a 32-year-old assistant professor, signs up for the AAD mentorship program. He is assigned to Jeff, the director of pediatric dermatology at a nearby institution. In initial meetings they share their “core values.” Jack expresses that his young family is his most important priority. He identifies patient care and experience as his priority in his work life, with education a less strong value for him. Jeff, who is a full professor, similarly stresses the importance of family but sees his commitment to his department and trainees of equal importance to patient care.

Jack calls Jeff one day and asks to meet and get his advice on a problem. When they meet, Jack explains that he has been asked to supervise an experienced mid-level provider during one of his clinics. He has not been offered any salary support to do this, and Jack refuses to accept the assignment because there is “nothing in it for me financially.”  Jeff is stunned. Jeff feels that faculty is always responsible for the success of the department and that personal financial gain should not always be the primary goal. Jack feels it is a family commitment to maximize personal revenue. Jeff feels the survival of the unit must override personal gain. Will their different values prevent a successful mentorship?