Heather Marie Hylton, PA-C

Apr 29, 2011

In the practice of Oncology as well as the whole of Medicine, mentoring relationships are essential. 

Do you recall some of the mentors that have had the most impact on your training? Your clinical practice? I highly suspect there are some good stories out there!

During my didactic training, each of us had a community preceptor with whom we met on a regular basis to primarily review and present the student history and physical. Oh yes, the exquisitely detailed student history and physical! I admit I was always a bit nervous for those meetings—my preceptor was organized, polished, and goal-directed and I was a bit of a fledgling. In point of fact, even before I had my first meeting with my preceptor, she requested that I submit to her my personal goals and objectives for our meetings. She was tough but fair, and I’m a better clinician for it today. I think of her often whenever I mentor students in the same capacity and would like to have the same positive impact on my mentee as she had on me when I was hers. Hmmm, I, too, have been told I’m tough but fair…. 

Recently I was asked about resources for PAs new to Oncology or a subspecialty practice in Oncology. There is hardly a more important resource than a PA’s Supervising Physician. The unique relationship between the Supervising Physician and the PA lends itself to the very practice of mentoring. Of course, a PA must do his or her own individual learning but it is such an asset to have a mentor with whom to discuss and share ideas.

Although I am no longer a PA new to the practice of Oncology, I highly value the mentoring of my physician and non-physician colleagues and learn from them each day. 

Likewise, I feel it is important to give back and serve as a mentor for students and PAs new to the practice of Oncology. By sharing our joy and enthusiasm for what we do and teaching others about what we do, we can hopefully encourage others to pursue rewarding careers in Oncology in order to help meet the needs of our patients now and in the future.  

It is with gratitude to my mentors over the years that I conclude this message, and I invite you to share stories about your mentors!


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