Award-winning mentor Janet Ellsworth still reaches out for advice for her own career

Professor is still learning after 31 years in the department

Tamara Vineberg - 06 November 2018

For Janet Ellsworth, mentoring means helping learners understand who they want to be as a person and as a physician. "It's about helping people identify their strengths and their weaknesses and giving them advice and tools on how to develop in terms of their career," she says. Ellsworth, a professor in the Division of Pediatric Rheumatology, received the Annual Mentoring Award at the June 6, 2018 Department of Pediatrics Faculty Appreciation & Recognition Dinner.


Ellsworth's career was impacted greatly by her own first mentor, Ross Petty, one of the founders of pediatric rheumatology in Canada. Their mentor-mentee relationship made her appreciate how important mentoring is as a part of teaching. "I realized that people don't come in with a fully formed idea of who they are, who they want to be or how they want their careers to develop. A lot of decisions they make about what they want to do come from the experiences of working with people that they want to emulate," says Ellsworth.


Although she is not part of a formal mentoring program, many learners and colleagues have turned to Ellsworth for advice on how to balance life with career. "One of the most important things I have learned over 31 years in the Department of Pediatrics, and now try to share with others, is that you have know when to say "no" and when to say "yes" to opportunities that fit with your career and personal goals," she says.


She also believes that, in order to be a good mentor, it is important to have reflected on your own career first. "You have to have a little perspective. I don't think everybody can mentor everybody else. To a certain extent, you find the mentor that you need at the time in your life when you need that particular skill set. What people need from a mentor is going to be different at different stages of their life," she says.


Ellsworth is taking her own advice as she prepares for the next stage of her life - retirement in June 2020 - by reaching out to mentors once again and taking their advice. Mentorship continues to have an impact on her career.


The Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry does offer a mentorship program. To find out more information, visit the website.