The theme of the 65th Annual Meeting of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the title of this presidential address focus on mentorship as a valuable service owed to the profession of neurological surgery by its members, a crucial tool for the education of new neurosurgeons, and a fundamental contributor to the progress of the specialty. The author explores the origin of the term “mentor” in Homeric tradition and the impact of mentorship on the historical legacy of neurological surgery. He outlines the role mentorship played in his own professional development, as well as the changing face of mentorship today due to increasing numbers of women in neurosurgery.
Many surgeons perceive modern educational approaches as threats to the tradition of personal mentorship in medicine. The author argues that intentional educational methods, such as the Society of Neurological Surgeons (SNS) “matrix” curriculum, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education “milestones,” and the SNS “boot camp” courses, each focus, enhance, and empower, but do not replace, personal mentorship. The author further describes the important role of mentorship in the definition, growth, and health of the specialty of neurological surgery and in the personal well-being and fulfillment of its practitioners.