A career defined by great research and extraordinary mentoring
Dr. Robert Sheldon is the 2020 recipient of the Mentor of the Year award for Region 1
Despite his myriad accomplishments as a Cardiology researcher and clinician, many of Robert Sheldon’s, MD, FRCPC, colleagues believe his major contribution to medicine has been through mentorship.
Dr. Sheldon is a cardiac arrhythmia specialist and professor of cardiac sciences, medicine and medical genetics at the University of Calgary. He is most widely recognized as an international expert in the treatment of vasovagal syncope. He is the author of hundreds of manuscripts and is a celebrated lecturer.
“Dr. Sheldon is an individual who I aspire to be once I complete my training,” said Zardasht Oqab MD, a long-time mentee of Dr. Sheldon’s. “In addition to his extraordinary research accomplishments, he has mentored trainees from clinical clerks to PhD candidates. It speaks to his ability to connect to trainees at all levels.”
Dr. Oqab describes Dr. Sheldon as a mentor who takes time to get to know the mentee both professionally and personally before dispensing advice. “There were many moments when I ran into a cycle of doubt and contemplated taking the easy road,” he said. “At these times, a mentor’s role is of utmost importance.”
But what convinces Dr. Oqab that Dr. Sheldon is a truly great mentor is the latter’s enthusiasm for supporting his mentees’ decisions rather than attempting to imprint his own intrinsic beliefs of how they should practise and grow as professionals. “Once he understood what my goals were, he provided specific and actionable advice, which has helped me immensely.”
Roopinder Kaur Sandhu, MD, MPH, FHRS, has worked closely with Dr. Sheldon over many years to further syncope health research in Canada. Her research has succeeded admirably under Dr. Sheldon’s guidance, producing unique data in Canada and internationally. This has led to numerous publications and presentations, and many national and international speaking invitations for Dr. Sandhu.
“Dr. Sheldon epitomizes the type of mentor I emulate as I mentor research students and fellows,” says Dr. Sandhu. “His extraordinary commitment, support and focus on mentoring have never waned over the years. These attributes have been invaluable to my successes and will continue to drive future achievements.”
Dr. Sheldon views mentoring as a lifelong passion that is sharply distinct from the role of a supervisor. “A mentor is someone who takes responsibility, but not authority, for helping the mentee find their path in the safest and most efficient and most rewarding way,” he said. “A mentor is someone who will always be there for the mentee with balanced advice. It’s an extremely rewarding role and everyone should do it.”