Anastomosis Mentoring Program

Connecting Mentors Across All Stages of Surgical Training

Dr. Raghavendran and general surgery trainees
Lab personnel working in the lab
Resident instructing at clinical simulation center
Dr. Kwakye and Dr. Valbuena talking in conference room

Mentorship Across Generations

We created a mentorship program to encourage camaraderie and engagement across all “generations” of surgical training by providing dedicated time to support necessary mentoring and coaching.

Each mentoring “family” consists of one or two medical students interested in surgery, a general surgery categorical PGY-1, an academic development time (ADT) resident, and a faculty member. This framework allows multiple members to meet and engage in a bidirectional mentoring experience in an efficient manner.

Each group is in place for two years. The timing for each group aligns for all trainee members to reach the following milestones:

  • Medical student match and graduation
  • PGY-1 to PGY-3 year
  • Resident completion of academic development time (ADT)

The intern temporarily exits the program during a clinically busy third year. Once they enter their ADT, they have the opportunity to be part of a new mentoring family, serving the role as the ADT resident. 

I have been fortunate to have meaningful mentorship as both a trainee and a junior faculty member. I am passionate about mentoring and truly believe that it is one of the most important elements to achieve success. Further, it is a way to give back and honor those who have mentored and sponsored me. The opportunity to act as an "Anastomosis" mentor has allowed me to provide my mentees support and guidance that I hope will allow them to thrive during training and beyond.

Pasithorn Suwanabol, MD (Assistant Professor, Colorectal Surgery)

Mentorship Meetings

The mentoring family meets for at minimum one hour every three months. The first half of the meeting is informal and allows each member of the team, including the faculty member, to discuss current difficulties or areas where additional support may be needed. This gives the PGY-1 and medical student an opportunity to review feedback in a confidential, safe space.

The second half of the meeting focuses on a specific topic, such as engaging in research, choosing an academic career, and excelling clinically. Topics also target harm reduction, including evidence-based methods to reduce burnout, sexual harassment, and discrimination. A short presentation highlighting landmark papers, evidence-based methods to address each issue, as well as national and local resources, will be distributed to each group to prepare participants to discuss each of these topics. Members are expected to learn from the provided resources and the expertise and background of each other.

Faculty and ADT residents engage in informal monthly “check-ins” via text or email to identify any earlier indicators of distress and provide encouragement and coaching. 

Upon moving to Ann Arbor for residency, I knew that I would be hundreds of miles away from my family and closest friends. I was therefore eager to form connections and find community in all its forms. The beautiful thing about my Anastomosis group is that it allows for 4 people in very different stages of our careers to celebrate our respective victories and reflect on our challenges. From getting messages of encouragement on difficult clinical days to having rich discussions about research topics to laughing about our shared lack of motivation to exercise, my Anastomosis family has certainly helped me to build a home-away-from-home here in Ann Arbor. I can’t wait to see how our group continues to evolve!

Joy Obayemi, MD (General Surgery Resident)

Quality Assurance

Faculty, residents, and medical students are measured on burnout, depression, anxiety, and professional fulfillment using the Professional Fulfillment Index. In addition, participants are measured on resident camaraderie, perceived faculty engagement, as well as residents’ intent to pursue academic surgery and medical student interest in applying to general surgery. Qualitative studies will also be conducted. 

We specifically aim to determine the program's effectiveness as an intervention for resident burnout. Results regarding the effects of the mentorship program are to be published.

The paradox of mentorship is that success in surgery fundamentally depends being both a good mentee and mentor, but nobody ever sits you down to explain either of those roles. If you’re lucky, you work with some great mentors and pick it up along the way. This is why the Anastomosis Program has been such a crucial addition to my training as a surgical resident – having focused, regular meetings to discuss and practice mentorship skills promotes intentional growth in this domain. Anastomosis provides a forum to connect on a deeper lever with my peers and faculty, and to have conversations about the stuff that really matters as we go through our careers. Few curricula add value to our training in the way Anastomosis does.

Ryan Howard, MD (General Surgery Resident)

How to Apply

General surgery categorical PGY-1s and PGY-4s are invited to participate with the option to opt out. Medical students can apply in May 2021 by contacting Mary Shen at shenma@med.umich.edu.

Contact Us

Mary Shen, MD

Anastomosis Program Coordinator