Me and my shadow: High School Alliance seeks mentors

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | August 28, 2013

Image with caption: William Lydiatt, M.D., lets a group of High School Alliance students shadow him during a typical workday.

William Lydiatt, M.D., lets a group of High School Alliance students shadow him during a typical workday.

Bill Lydiatt, M.D., enjoys working with the young students of UNMC's High School Alliance.

He thinks his colleagues and other medical professionals would enjoy it as well, and the program is inviting them to try, seeking professionals to allow the students to shadow them during a regular working day.

An instructor in the program since it began four years ago, Dr. Lydiatt is enthusiastic about the alliance.

"It's important to get people interested in health care careers early on, to expose them to all the different diversity of careers available," he said. "It's important to expose diverse youth, as well -- kids from different backgrounds."

One of the high points of the program for students is the opportunity to shadow a health professional. Dr. Lydiatt has been a "shadow mentor" with the program since its inception. He says the activity offers advantages not only to the students, but to the participating professionals.

"As physicians and health care professionals, we become accustomed to fairly remarkable experiences," he said. "We get to take part in very critical events in people's lives. We get to see them express incredible gratitude, but also fear and a whole range of emotions."

The reactions of the students, Dr. Lydiatt said, can remind professionals of the wonder and gravity of their work.

"It's nice to see that, to think about what it is like to witness this event as someone who's had little to no experience in these situations," he said. "It reinvigorates your interest in what you do; it brings back some of the awe of experiencing what we get to experience as physicians and health care workers."

Since the High School Alliance has only been in existence for four years, it's still too early to judge its impact. However, Dr. Lydiatt already has seen signs that the involvement of health care professionals leaves its mark.

"In class, and in the writing assignments, I have come across very insightful, wise observations," he said. "Students will often draw on a major experience they saw in clinic - a person with an end-of-life issue, or a person newly diagnosed with cancer."

Dr. Lydiatt highly recommends the mentoring experience. There's little time commitment, and the students are HIPAA-trained and prepared to act professionally.

"They are respectful, appreciative and very bright, and they will bring a different and new insight to your daily experience."

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Karen Anderson
August 28, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Dr. Lydiatt is the best. He has s full grasp of the "whole" patient and is able to exempify this in his care to patients. The importance of mentoring the next generation of health care providers can not be underestimated. He is leading by example with clincal excellence and pesonal compassion.