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54
RCSI MATTERS
RCSI MATTERS (RM): COULD YOU EXPLAIN HOW THE
ALUMNI MENTOR NETWORK CAME ABOUT?
Fionnuala Rahilly (FR): The network has been very much
the brainchild of Dr Alice McGarvey, Vice-Dean for
Student Career Development, who, from the beginning,
spearheaded the initiative and guided the work of the IT
team that designed the portal. RCSI has long acknowledged
that our global community of alumni, across 70 countries and
20,000-strong, is a rich resource of professional expertise
and life experience. The Alumni Mentor Network enables us
to begin to realise the potential of that community, using the
power of the mentorship relationship to harness a wealth of
knowledge for the benefit of students and alumni alike.
RM: HOW DOES THE PORTAL WORK?
FR: The portal is e-mail-based and students are given access
in their senior clinical years. Students initiate the contact by
emailing a query, usually limited to three or four questions,
seeking specific career advice. For example, a student
in cardiology might request information on residency
cardiology programmes in Toronto. Through the portal, the
student can access RCSI Alumni who are currently working
as cardiologists in Toronto and who can provide informed,
up-to-date information such as specific advice on application
procedure or insights on the factors a particular training
programme values in candidates.
RM: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS FOR THE ALUMNI WHO
JOIN THE NETWORK?
FR: It was evident at RCSI's Gathering event in September,
which attracted so many alumni from all over the world,
that there is a depth of affection for, and loyalty to, the
College, as well as a genuine and widespread desire to
`give something back'. Participating in the network provides
a practical means of doing that, while strengthening
engagement with RCSI as an institution and, simultaneously,
staying current on the next generation of practitioners.
The network also facilitates busy physicians in that it allows
mentors to address student queries when it is convenient
for them and is invaluable from the perspective of time zone
differences.
RM: YOU HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS OF THE POSITIVE
IMPACT THE NETWORK WILL HAVE FROM A STUDENT
PERSPECTIVE, ALSO?
FR: The process of engaging with experienced alumni in the
formatted portal environment has, potentially, far-reaching
impacts. Mentors who have recently graduated will be
able to advise students as to how to succeed and get on
the career ladder initially with a deep understanding of the
application and interview process. Potentially, students may
be in correspondence with alumni who could be eight to 10
years ahead of them professionally.
In the most direct way, the advice and insights mentors
share with students will provide them with a valuable edge
in a highly competitive workplace. But, almost inevitably,
there will be a more indirect, and, at least, equally valuable
outcome; students will find that engagement with the
Alumni Mentor Network sharpens thinking, develops
concision in communication and deepens appreciation of
the nuances in the language and attitudes of the practising
specialist. Engagement with the mentor at that level can
practically contribute to adjusting student mindsets from a
campus context to a `real-world' perspective.
RM: HOW DO YOU ENVISAGE THE NETWORK
DEVELOPING IN THE FUTURE?
FR: The future holds many possibilities; among them an
important life skill, the value of professional networking
which over time will become a key differentiator for our
graduates in their careers.
Alumni assist next generation
via innovative online portal
RCSI has begun a new chapter in its worldwide engagement with alumni. Fionnuala
Rahilly, Career Development Manager, Department of Student, Academic and
Regulatory Affairs, spoke to
RCSI Matters
about the development of the Alumni
Mentor Network, an interactive portal that links alumni and students, and has the
potential to bring online mentorship to a new level of effectiveness combining global
reach with a precise, career opportunity-specific focus
Fionnuala Rahilly,
Career Development
Manager,
Department of
Student, Academic
and Regulatory
Affairs, RCSI.