Dr. Prakeshkumar Shah has found the sweet spot of good mentorship
Prakeshkumar Shah, MD, FRCPC, is this year’s recipient of the Mentor of the Year award for Region 3
There’s a sweet spot in mentoring where support and guidance leave plenty of room for independence. Mastery of that balancing act and rave reviews from trainees is what makes Staff Neonatologist and Clinical Epidemiologist Dr. Prakeshkumar Shah a highly sought-after mentor at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.
“His ability to stay up-to-date on a wide variety of topics, ‘open door’ policy for his mentees, innovative approach to teaching, skills of promoting the interest of his mentees without compromising the quality of work and his honest and humble approach to mentoring are extremely hard to emulate,” says Amish Jain, MBBS, a fellow staff neonatologist at Mount Sinai.
Dr. Shah, a world-renowned researcher, educator and clinician, says having three distinct categories of mentees — clinical, research and faculty — means having three distinct approaches to supporting them.
“For clinical mentees, I try to gauge their understanding of what is happening to the patients. I try to help them understand the process of arriving at a plan-of-action by asking questions and encouraging them to individualize plans.”
With research mentees, he says the type of support varies depending on how well-developed their research plans are and their familiarity with Canada’s research processes.
“For junior faculty, I try to guide their interests and enthusiasm in such a way that they develop a niche in a certain area,” he says.
Mentees also praise Dr. Shah for ensuring a safe learning environment. Part of that means letting the trainee take their own route to a treatment plan.
“I often tell trainees that there are five different ways to go from Toronto to Montreal. As long as you are going to Montreal, I will let you go,” he says. “As long as the patient will not be harmed and there will be no delay in treatment.”
In these cases, Dr. Shah also shares what his approach would have been and why, so trainees can make their own decisions about their developing practice.
The other side of the safety equation for Dr. Shah is about respect and support.
“I do not reprimand students in front of a group for something that was not done properly,” he says.
Known for giving much time, patience and respect to his mentees, Dr. Shah says it’s about giving back.
“When I came to Canada, I had mentors who helped my career. I do feel that I was privileged to get excellent advice through mentoring and I feel a need to pass it along.”