With the R2R mentorship program coming to a close, this final story synthesizes my experiences resulting from the program.
First, my mentorship experience has been great! Alton was, and thankfully still is, eager to work with me, and work on my behalf. From the start he made the experience about me and my professional and personal growth, an approach he felt necessary to bring the best product forward. While certainly staying on task with my development in public health expertise, Alton introduced an element of balance in my life, both mentally and spiritually. I value his approach and truly believe that the pairing, as everything happens for a reason, was purposeful and needed at this time in my career. Alton allowed me to lead the mentoring relationship. I feel I did well, and I think we worked great together on setting realistic goals and objectives for my project and professional development. We learned alot from each other throughout the process and I value his friendship.
Second, I gained a great understanding of the principles of evidence based public health and interventions by way of Alton, mentorship program trainings, and other resources identified through the community of practice. The competencies I chose to focus on, including 1) analytic/assessment skills, 2) basic public health science skills, and 3) advocacy and communication skills, were tremendously exercised. Activities such as developing a project issue statement, completing institutional review board processes, survey development and distribution, data management and analysis, and presenting findings on a national webinar were just some of my hands on skill development experiences. Further data analysis, and identifying and implementing a clinician intervention to help translate the research into practice, will support, as originally intended, Louisiana’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan to curb tobacco use.
All that being said, within the midst of project timeline delays; work responsibilities; continuing education; manuscript writing; meeting, training and conference attendance; a hurricane; and new job transition time for Alton, it has been tough to maintain focus. Some of these real world experiences were common among mentees, and we found it beneficial to hold mentee only meetings to discuss and troubleshoot together. Compounded with uncertainty in the current direction of the state public hospital system, the saying held true that it would be difficult to accomplish this project in one year. Nevertheless, I have greatly benefited from each and every experience and look forward to seeing my project through. And, I am thankful that Alton will see both my cancer control project, and the project that is me, through to the end as well.