Behavioral Health Mentorship Dinner
On February 27, 93 students, faculty, and other guests met for the 5th annual Behavioral Health Mentorship Dinner sponsored by the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) and UNMC’s student Psychiatry Interest Group (PsIG). This year’s event, held at Joslyn Castle, gathered students and mentors from a range of behavioral health disciplines including psychiatry, psychology, and nursing and included students and faculty from both UNMC and Creighton University.
The mentorship dinner connects students, faculty, and practitioners in an informal setting where they can ask real questions and become better acquainted with professionals in other behavioral health fields.
“The event has grown tremendously in its 4 years. When I started at UNMC, my job on faculty was as faculty advisor to the Psychiatry Interest Group, which was one student at the time,” said Dr. Howard Liu, M.D., Medical Director at BHECN. “Year by year, we grew to more medical students being interested. Finally, we added other professions—nursing last year, and psychology and counseling this year. Next year, we hope to add folks studying to become physician assistants with an interest in psychiatry.”
For fourth year medical student Ryan Santin, who hadn’t really considered psychiatry as a career until a third year rotation at Lasting Hope, events like the mentorship dinner have helped tremendously in learning more about the field. “This mentorship dinner was especially important for me because I discovered mental health careers so late in the game. So being able to interact with the faculty here at UNMC and Creighton and people involved in the program, being able to pick their brain and talk to them and get to know them was vital for me.”
Events like the mentorship dinner are equally important for professors and practitioners in the field. Dr. Sheritta Strong, M.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UNMC, says events like this are important “for the future of the mental health workforce because it’s important for individuals interested in the field to see people practicing in the field and be able to ask questions about getting into the field.”
The mentorship dinner is a not only a chance for students to connect with potential mentors and learn more about a career in behavioral health, but also to connect with one another. Lindsey Manzel, a family psychiatric nurse practitioner student at UNMC said “I don’t see myself all of the time as a mentor, but to young nursing students it is a mentorship role that I’m taking on. So at the same time as I’m finding individuals... who I can learn from, there are also other students are doing the same with me. I think it creates a really neat dynamic that otherwise wouldn’t happen if we weren’t given the opportunity to all be in one place at the same time.”