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Stepwise Success

Did You Have a Mentor?

Published March 5, 2014 6:13 AM by Scott Warner

It’s the same story at many labs: techs who have worked in the field or worked together at the same lab for decades. These techs know each other well. They know strengths, weaknesses, habits, and body language. They know who gives favors, who is a doormat, and who doesn’t budge.

If you’re one of these techs, you know what I’m talking about. You comfortably fit into your job and coworkers, and your job is still fulfilling after decades. It’s a good feeling to know what you know. I’ve talked to many techs who say they still love their job after 30 years. That really says a lot about our profession.

Our wealth of experience and professionalism should be used to mentor new techs.

A mentor is “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.” This is a natural role for techs with experience, knowledge, and ethics that have stood the test of stress and time. Techs who know their jobs inside and out are natural teachers and eager to share their knowledge. Mentoring is an easy next step.

As executive and author F. John Reh writes for About, “One of the most valuable assets your career can have is a good mentor... This guidance is not done for personal gain.” We have all needed mentors. And some of us were lucky enough to have one.

I was very lucky to have two. As a new supervisor and later manager, a consultant guided me through thick and thin, guiding and helping me with many projects and problems. I still occasionally email or telephone her with questions, fondly signing emails with “Grasshopper.” As a writer I was fortunate to know and work for a novelist who recognized talent I didn’t see and encouraged me to write. He spent time reading my awful prose and coaching me when he could have been writing himself, an astonishing gift in a profession of introverts.

The most valuable lesson is the mentoring itself and what it means. How about you: did you have a mentor?

NEXT: New Lots, Lots of Fun

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About this Blog


    Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP)
    Occupation: Laboratory Manager
    Setting: Critical Access Hospital
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