Part 1 of 3
“The best way to learn is through experience. The second best way is learning from other peoples’ experiences.” This quote from Amy Porterfield has stayed with me since the first time I heard it more than three years ago. Not a long time, I know, but this quote finally gave me words to define what having a mentor means. I finally have a way to define all the professional expertise bequeathed upon me, more than 10 years into my central sterile career. I call it being a late bloomer; my mentor calls it being stubborn. Tomāto, tomäto.
It took me a while to realize that I didn’t have to do everything on my own. What pride or glory did I get out of saying “I did this all by myself”? Even if I had said it out loud, no one would have heard it because I was literally professionally alone. This professional ego check was hard. Even when I feigned interest in seeking guidance, it wasn’t for real guidance. It was for the type of help that I thought I needed. It is true that having visions, goals, and objectives are important. However, when we are only limited to the extent of our own professional reality, there is so much that we could be missing. A mentor offers their experience for you to interpret. In turn, our interpretations should fuel our professional ambitions.
When we are by ourselves in our professional development, we are not afforded the sight to see milestones set by those before us. We may be professionally developing on our own path, but we must remember that paths inherently cross and overlap one another. Although we may not be on the same trajectory, there are those in our industry that have gone this way before. Besides, paths were designed to be traversed, over and over again. We may even miss a professional coming back down our path for the third or fourth time if we don’t keep our minds open to the possibility of mentorship.
Mentorship style, focus, and purpose vary. Some professionals have many mentors, while others have one. Some mentors wear multiple hats, while others may be amazing for one professional aspect. There are so many different types of mentors, too: profession, career, soft interpersonal skills, technical skills, the list goes on. If this is the first time you are actively contemplating what mentorship means to you and your professional development, congratulations! You are at the beginning. Remember, mentorship is not limited to the length of our professional practice, but rather the extent of our professional goals.
I have been fortunate enough to have a few professionals that I later realized were mentors in my professional development. It requires more than just good fortune. Even though there were times I didn’t quite grasp the extent of what mentorship could offer, there was always someone I professionally admired from afar. That was quite literally how I defined mentor: someone who I professionally looked up to. Oh, the opportunities for professional growth I missed out on due to this shortsightedness!
Let’s challenge ourselves professionally to reevaluate the terms mentor and mentorship in our careers. It’s more than just who you know in the industry; it’s why we hesitate to put ourselves out there for growth. It’s learning how to find one. It’s knowing when we have found the right one. But most importantly, it’s about who we want to become professionally. Mentors afford us the luxury to be encouraged, inspired, and motivated by their professional experience, strength, and hope.
In my next NewSplash article, we will discuss the variety of mentorship that could be available to our professional development. Until then, let’s take a hard stop and honest assessment to determine what parts of our own professional perception have kept us from attaining one.
Sarah B. Cruz, CSPDT, CRCST, is a quality education program development coordinator for central sterile. As a CS education coordinator, she creates and institutes an education program in central sterile departments. This includes, but is not limited to, the formation of programs that onboard new employees, develop competencies, certify staff, develop LEAN process improvements, and implement standards of best practices and professional practices.
Sarah’s dedication to her industry continues as the creator and president of PRETREAT CSS, LLC, a mentorship platform used to educate, motivate, and support CS technicians’ professional development. Through tangible actions and physical indicators of success, Sarah knows central sterile services is an excellent profession to develop in as a career. She vocalizes her passion through published articles, social media, webinars, and public speaking. As an industry expert, she is passionate about her message: put the CSS in SUCCESS!
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