The Longman dictionary of contemporary English defines a mentor as “a person who is more experienced in a subject matter that advises, guides, directs and helps a less experienced person known as the mentee while research is an in-depth study into a subject to discover new facts or to test new ideas“. (1) Researchers at the early stage of their career require a mentor to act as a guide in their career and research. This requirement also applies to the medical profession and early career doctors inclusive. During undergraduate dental and medical education, dental and medical students are introduced to research during their rotation and clerkship in community medicine, also known as preventive and social medicine in some Nigerian dental and medical schools. There are two forms of mentoring, namely, formal and informal mentoring. There are few medical schools and residency training centres in Nigeria that have a structured mentoring system where students or junior doctors are assigned to mentors.
“Researchers at the early stage of their career require a mentor to acts as a guide in their career and research”
After completion of my National Youth Service Corps, I worked in a privately owned hospital. It was here I met my research mentor who has been guiding me in the path of research. My medical director by name Dr Hope Ilanye Bellgam, a consultant nephrologist and geriatrician, is my research mentor. My relationship with my medical director graduated from just been a boss to be my research mentor, coach, role model, a mother, an elder sister, aunty and friend. We have had rough times which are common in every relationship, but we are still forging ahead. In the beginning, I thought it was a disturbance, but now when I look back, I do not know how to say thank you to her.
My first research with her was during the Rivers State branch of the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria annual celebration of their week. She asked me to design a questionnaire to survey self-breast examination among women doctors as the doctors are teaching other women to carry out the self-breast examination. Hence, it is necessary to know if they are practising what they are teaching other women. Another incidence I will always remember and be grateful to her is when she walked into my consulting room one day and asked me to draft an outline for a health talk on women’s health as she was invited by a women’s group to give the speech. The outline I prepared after some years metamorphosed into a book titled ‘What You Need to Know About Women’s Health’. My research mentor has also taught me a lot of moral as I always remember her usual quote ‘beneath my flawless skin are my scars’. I want to encourage every early-career doctor interested in research to identify a mentor to guide them if you cannot find one, continue searching you will surely find one that will lead you to greater heights more than themselves as ‘no one can stop the yeast from rising’.
Papers co-authored with her mentor
1. Bellgam Hope Ilanye, Buowari Dabota Yvonne. Specialist healthcare for senior citizens in Port
Harcourt, Nigeria – knowledge, attitude and expectations. Journal of Liberia Medical and Dental
Association. 2018, Volume 18, Issue 1 and 2, Pages 8-12.
2. Buowari Dabota Yvonne, Bellgam Hope Ilanye, Adebiyi Obelebra, Edewor Ufuoma, Agala
Vetty. Physical activities of doctors in Rivers State, southern Nigeria. World Medical Journal.2020. Volume 66, Number2, Pages 21-25.
- Longman Dictionary of English contemporary. www.idoceonline.com
Dr Dabota Yvonne Buowari currently work at the Department Of Accident and Emergency, University Of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. She joined the Research Collaboration Network(RCN) since 2018 and she is an active member.