WHPRMS members share life lessons with mentoring program

Someone once said, “We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how.” Isn’t that the truth. As health care marketing and communications professionals, we often get caught up in the everyday hustle and bustle. Running to back-to-back meetings. Answering emails and voicemails that need immediate attention. Working late nights to meet deadline. The thought of carving out extra time to meet with a fellow colleague for a quick chat or email may be discouraging. Not because you don’t want to, but just because you don’t have time.

Truth is, having a role model, mentor or apprentice can help us do great things. WHPRMS started a mentoring program that is proving to do just that for its members. The program matches volunteer mentors with mentees for a suggested three-month commitment. “Mentoring is available to members at any stage in their career who are seeking to develop new skills or make progress toward professional goals,” said Matt Thompson, current WHPRMS President. “Mentoring pairs meet or connect approximately two to four times per month or as much as they need to establish individual goals.”

We spoke with past/present mentor and mentee pairings to get their perspectives on the program. Here are their life lessons learned:

Why did you become involved?

“I’ve been blessed in my position to have a great mentor in my director at Mile Bluff, but I wanted to gain some additional industry insight from someone outside of my organization. It has been a great opportunity to learn about different marketing tools and strategies that other health care organizations utilize.” -Katie Nuttall, Communication Specialist, Mile Bluff Medical Center in Mauston.

“So many people have been helpful to me in my career growth. I just wanted to pass it along. Hearing her [Katie] questions and having to explain my views on something helps me better realize the philosophies I have on work relationships, marketing strategy and project work. This only makes me a better leader to my team.” -Anne Brogen, Influence Health

How does the program benefit you as a communications professional?

“The program certainly benefited me as a communications professional via the sharing aspect because I was able to discuss projects and how to handle and respond to different situations, or personalities, in a correct manner. It’s also nice to talk with a fellow professional outside of our hospital system, to gain different perspectives.” -Tim Drinan, Internal Communications Manager, Ministry Health Care

“For me, someone who has been in this field for more than 20 years, I can’t say that I did it for myself. I did it to help someone younger advance. A lot of people in WHPRMS helped me and gave me opportunities when I was early in my career. I wanted to do that same.” -Peggy Weber Kiefer, Account Service/Healthcare, BVK

“It was nice that my mentor [Anne] was working for a bigger health system and was willing to share some information with me. Because of her insight into new provider promotions and relations, we have since revamped and standardized our own new provider promotion process at Mile Bluff. Since Mile Bluff is a rural community, our marketing department doesn’t always know about the latest and greatest marketing tools. Anne was able to connect me with those resources. Anne’s background in web development and web strategy inspired me to pursue a certification in digital marketing strategy.” -Katie Nuttall

How much time does it take?

“I typically let the mentee drive the time investment. If they want to talk weekly, I’m here. If they want in person meetings, I’ll do that too. But in my experience with three very different mentees, I would estimate we spent 5-10 hours together either via phone or email. I really let the mentee drive that process, but let them know I’m always here and will make time for them. I only recall one ‘emergency I need you now’ email, that led to a phone call, but heck, that made my day that they reached out to me! We made a plan and they worked it, and it all turned out well.” -Kathy Schultz, Senior Marketing Consultant, UW Health

“A total of 10-12 a year. There are a lot of variables. For me and my mentee, we were in different towns [Milwaukee and Madison] so we emailed and then we spent several hours together when we did meet in person. The program is very flexible.” -Peggy Weber Kiefer

What would you say to someone interested in the program?

“To mentees I would say “Just do it! There is always something to learn. And honestly, I would say the same thing to people considering becoming a mentor. I know most of the WHPRMS mentors, and they are amazing, intelligent, kind people. Heck, maybe one of them will mentor me!” -Kathy Schultz

“It’s a great opportunity to connect with communication professionals beyond the WHPRMS conference. Whether you’re new to the industry or have been at it for quite a while, you can always learn something new from someone else.” – Katie Nuttall

The program is only available to current members of WHPRMS. To learn more or to become a mentor or mentee, CLICK HERE. 

This post was written and researched by Trish (Skram) Reed. If you have other news, resources or links to share, please comment below or email Trish Reed, blogger and research content specialist for WHPRMS, at trishskram@gmail.com.

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