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Got Mentors? Define Your Mentor
Part 2 of 3

We are not limited to the initial way we carried ourselves in our profession. There is no cap on the amount of knowledge and expertise we can attain as we grow into the future of our industry; however, we must be willing to move outside the confines of what we already know. In Part 1 of our three-part series, we discussed why seeking mentorship will help us transcend the current limitations of our professional expertise. By introducing the professional experience of others to our development, we broaden our scope and possibilities. Mentors help us personify our limitations, define our underdeveloped skills, and inspire professional trajectory. Now that we have learned why mentorship is important, we can decide which type of mentor is best for us.

First, determine what your ideal mentor looks like. Make a list of all their attributes. Give them a persona, an attitude, and a professional vision. Ask yourself if they have multiple certifications. Are they a decontamination all-star or a wiz at answering the phone? Are they a pay-raise aficionado? Through this exercise, our ideal mentor will either mirror our current professional presentation or represent our professional inadequacies. Evaluating this difference is crucial! Recognizing them will help us define the type of mentorship that will benefit us.

Take a moment to consider your professional vision. Here are a few honest assessment questions to help determine what objectives and goals are important to you. Where do you see yourself in five years? Are you aiming for a physical achievement, like obtaining a certification? Does a less-tangible soft skill need developing so you can collaborate with other professionals? Do you need help defining a career path toward your next position? Specificity in our own vision will help us determine the type of mentorship we would benefit from the most.

A classic type of mentorship includes an individual that is more like a teacher or counselor. The mentor  delivers the information necessary for us to make our own determinations. The classic mentor relationship offers an abstract of nuts and bolts to use as steppingstones. The mentee takes these lessons and applies them to areas of improvement within their profession.

Another form of mentorship is coaching. A coach often represents the model or end goal of the  mentee. A coach is usually viewed as a leader in a specific area that the mentee wants to develop more. The perceived lessons are seen as less abstract by the mentee. A coach will mirror exact steps offered to achieve the same results. A coach is also able to offer a devil’s advocate-style approach because you’ve already deemed them a master of their craft. This is great for right-sizing a technician’s large ego.

The last form of mentorship is sponsorship. A sponsor acts as more of an advisor and may be aiming to achieve a similar vision as the mentee. They are often professional colleagues because they exchange ideas, encourage each other, and help each other to grow simultaneously to achieve their professional vision.

Let’s use the list of our ideal mentor and our newfound understanding for mentorship forms. This exercise will help us define the style of mentorship that will serve us best. A classic mentorship is beneficial to those whose list has a lot of professional qualities on it that they don’t see in themselves. Having an individual that you view as a teacher or counselor can help firm your professional foundation. If your ideal mentor mirrors a lot of the professional qualities you already possess, a classic mentorship form may not benefit you as well. A coach may be able to help you more because they can help you organize any abstract information directly into a series of actionable steps. If you find that your list is balanced between the two, a sponsor   can be extremely beneficial. You can be each other’s champion and partner in crime while you  take on professional development together, learning and bouncing ideas off of one another to grow down your own perspective paths.

Seeking mentorship is like the first day in our departments; we aren’t going to know anything! There will be uncertainty and second-guessing. There is a high chance that imposter syndrome and an undeserving mentality will creep in. These are all signs that our technician’s ego is being checked by our professional vision. Leave the mindset that had you as the beacon of all central sterile knowledge at the door. The next version of our professional self is waiting on the other side.

In the final installment of this NewSplash exclusive series, we’ll discuss actionable steps we can take to attract a mentor and maintain a healthy professional relationship with them. Make sure to have your ideal mentor, mentorship form, and mentorship style determined by then.

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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