PAMED Member Explains the Benefits of Mentoring


Kristen M. Sandel, MD
Young Physicians Section, PAMED

Students, residents and young physicians often feel frustrated and overwhelmed by the realities of medicine. From increasing regulations to balancing their work and personal lives, physicians and future physicians face many challenges.

But they don’t have to face it alone.

Oftentimes, talking with an experienced physician can help them find solutions to navigating this complex world. The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) created the Match-a-Member Mentoring Program for that very reason.

The program matches young physicians seeking mentorship with physicians willing to provide guidance.

Learn what makes a good mentor-mentee relationship in this video

PAMED recently spoke with Kristen Sandel, MD, an emergency physician from Reading, who signed up to be a mentor in the program. She answers questions regarding the sign-up process, her previous experience as a mentee, and her reasons for joining PAMED’s Match-a-Member Mentoring Program.

PAMED: As a medical student or during your residency, did you have a person who you would describe or refer to as a mentor? If so, how did this person help you during this time period and how much did you benefit from it? If it applies, was this one of the reasons you wanted to join PAMED’s mentoring program?

Dr. Sandel: Yes, in medical school, we were all initially broken into groups and assigned mentors from different specialties. Mine was from rheumatology and was an excellent initial mentor and assisted me in navigating the first two years of medical school. As we moved forward into our third and fourth years, I gravitated toward three physicians in the emergency department at the University of Pittsburgh. They were extremely excellent clinicians, respected by staff, and most importantly, they were great people. They definitely provided me a blueprint of the kind of physician that I wanted to be. These physicians assisted me with my applications, residency choices, and were willing to provide me with recommendation letters. As I moved into residency, there was a physician who was the director at one of our clinical sites who had those same qualities, but also displayed excellent administration skills and had a wonderful work-life balance.

PAMED: What were your reasons for joining PAMED’s mentoring program?

Dr. Sandel: I am the clerkship director for medical students and the director for off-service residents in the emergency department. As an educator, I find myself teaching not only about emergency medicine, but also about all of the other issues affecting medicine, including value-based care and other major changes in health care. The mentor program will allow these types of discussions to be longer lasting with young physicians and not just end when the clerkship or rotation is over. I am hoping that as I mentor physicians I can discuss with them the mistakes that I have made in my career so that they can learn from them without making the same ones. I hope to advise the mentees of some of the challenges and pitfalls to watch for and how to navigate through them.

PAMED: What are you hoping to get out of your mentoring experience?

Dr. Sandel: I am hoping to have the satisfaction of knowing I have made a difference in the career and the life of a physician in Pennsylvania. I hope that this program will be beneficial in keeping physicians in PA by the teaching some of the finer points of practicing medicine in the commonwealth.

PAMED: What are you hoping your mentee gets out of the experience?

Dr. Sandel: I am hopeful that the mentee can learn from some of the decisions that I have made in my career and have someone to reach out to when questions arise. I hope that I will be able to provide a sounding board for them and also provide them with contacts in the field/area of their choice.

PAMED: Was the process of signing up to be a mentor difficult?

Dr. Sandel: No, not at all. In fact, it was easier than almost any application I have completed.

PAMED: Do you have any advice or comments to physicians who are thinking about joining this program? What are the main reasons why other physicians should want to participate in this program?

Dr. Sandel: I think that this is an excellent opportunity to network for both mentors and mentees. It will be a learning opportunity for all those involved and hopefully will be a rewarding experience.

For more information, please visit to learn more about PAMED’s mentoring program and it’s benefits.