HIV Specialist - June 2021 - 48

BEST
PRACTICES
Critical Mentorship
Empowering Mentor-Mentee Relationships
towards Transformative Learning
BY ROQUE ANTHONY F. VELASCO, MS, AGPCNP-BC, AAHIVS
M
ENTORSHIP IS ESSENTIAL to professional
growth, especially among early career
healthcare professionals. Several studies in
various healthcare disciplines underscored
the importance of mentorship in creating supportive
and collaborative relationships, fostering professional
development, and providing psychosocial support.1-4
Mentorship programs, like the one offered by the American
Academy of HIV Medicine, can also offer mentees additional
training and education opportunities, promote research
productivity such as increased publication and grant success,
and enhance interdisciplinary professional networks.3,5
Similarly, mentoring relationships benefit mentors by
creating opportunities to teach, influence their discipline,
expand personal knowledge and skills, and reflect on personal
practice.6 Improved self-esteem by actively participating
in the growth of their mentees is also a notable benefit of
mentorship.4 Furthermore, mentors reported increased job
satisfaction, career advancement, and productivity.3,6-7
Building leadership capacity was also a notable benefit of mentorship.3
In a study of leadership development through mentoring programs,
generativity-a term used to describe a commitment to caring
and nurturing the next generation-was enhanced for both mentors
and mentees.8 In addition to mentors developing a stronger sense of
generativity by preparing their mentees to be future leaders in their
fields, a ripple effect of generativity was also observed among mentees
when they started becoming informal mentors to others.8 These findings
also substantiate current literature that described generativity
as a strong predictor of socially responsible leadership,9 illustrating
the vital role of mentorship in meeting the professional obligation to
foster a new generation of healthcare professionals.
Towards Critical Mentorship
Mentorship can also empower mentors and mentees by creating a
space for critical self-reflection that leads to growth and emancipatory
learning. Programs that incorporate critical mentorship moves
research and praxis from a dominant discourse to a transformative
48 JUNE 2021 HIVSPECIALIST WWW.AAHIVM.ORG
The author, Roque Anthony Velasco,
is a participant in the Academy
Mentoring Program. To learn more
about the program, please visit the
Academy site at https://community.
aahivm.org/mentoring.
examination of various socio-cultural identities
such as race and ethnicity, gender, sexual
orientation, and class.10-12 This approach is
particularly important in HIV care as people
living with HIV are inherently subjected to
oppressive structures and discourses that
interfere with healthcare access and delivery.
For instance, when discussing vulnerability
to HIV and pre-exposure prophylaxis
(PrEP) for at-risk transgender people, my
mentee and I had an in-depth conversation
about inequities in care:
Some groups of people have increased
vulnerability, which places them at risk for
HIV. We need to assess these vulnerabilities
so we can evaluate the need for interventions
like PrEP.
Like with transgender people?
Yes. Transgender people are vulnerable to HIV.
But why are they at risk?
Well, we first need to talk about the difference
between risk and vulnerability. When
we talk about risk, it is about the likelihood
of acquiring conditions like HIV. When we
talk about vulnerability, it is about those
factors that influence someone to engage in
certain behaviors that might place them at
risk for-in this instance-HIV.
Like transgender people and limited
access to culturally informed care or
how stigma is a barrier to care?
Yes! You are right! While HIV disproportionately
affects transgender people, especially
transgender women of color, gender identity
is not what places them at risk for HIV.
Transmisogyny, structural racism, and
social and structural determinants of health
all influence the risks of transgender people
https://community.aahivm.org/mentoring http://community.aahivm.org/mentoring http://WWW.AAHIVM.ORG

HIV Specialist - June 2021

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