When she completed residencies at the Cleveland Clinic and Chicago's Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Dr. Vani Vijayakumar didn't have a mentor.
She wishes someone had been there to teach her how to network, show her the ropes culturally, and tell her the steps she needed to take to advance in her career.
Vijayakumar, who goes by “Dr. Vani,” is professor of radiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She came to the United States 36 years ago from India after graduation from Sri Venkateswara Medical College in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. “As a resident and junior faculty member, I didn't know that you needed a mentor. We did not have mentoring programs at the time,” she said.
“I wanted that for my junior faculty here so that they can become more advanced in their careers through some guidance,” said Dr. Vani, on the Medical Center faculty since 2007.
Over the past two years, she's been growing a program to mentor women students, faculty, residents and fellows and to encourage diversity through her presidency of UMMC's chapter of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Group on Women in Medicine and Science.
Dr. Vani said she decided to formally begin mentoring young women after being chosen as mentor herself for a program guided by Dr. Omar Rahman, professor of pediatrics and neurology and vice chair of faculty development for the Department of Pediatrics. “Before that, I'd been mentoring residents and other people on my own,” she said.