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Mega Doctor NEWS

By Karen Villarreal

Throughout his medical career Dr. John H. Krouse, dean of UTRGV School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, has created career opportunities for young physicians and provided words of encouragement when they needed it. Those attributes have led to Krouse being selected for the 2021 Young Physicians Section (YPS) Model Mentor Award by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 

This recognition was based on the joint nomination of a group of young physicians who celebrated the role Krouse’s mentorship played in their success.

“I’m quite pleased to be selected as a Model Mentor by the YPS of the academy,” said Krouse. “It’s always been important to me to work with those who are earlier in their career than me.”

School of Medicine, Cohort 3, White Coat Ceremony at the Harlingen CISD Performing Arts Center. Dr. John Krouse, Dean of the School of Medicine, addresses the new cohort. UTRGV Photo by David Pike

The Young Physicians Section is made up of members of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery who are 40 years of age or younger and have typically been practicing in their careers approximately 10 years.  In making their selection, the YPS Governing Council stated that Krouse provided words of encouragement when the young doctors needed it most and went out of his way to create opportunities for their careers.

As Krouse has advanced through various levels of responsibility in his career spanning over 30 years, he has offered mentorship to a range of younger colleagues. During his medical residency, he first provided some guidance to medical school students making their way to their residency stage. Now as a dean he has worked with many former mentees in faculty positions – connecting them with leaders in otolaryngology to further their research, clinical, and professional aspirations, helping with article editing, and providing a comforting ear as their needs and careers widen. 

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“Mentorship is about listening,” said Krouse. “You have to get a sense of what someone’s goals and strengths are, and what barriers they perceive. A lot of it is helping someone see whether the barriers are real or not, and craft solutions that allow them to achieve their goals.”

School of Medicine, Cohort 3, White Coat Ceremony at the Harlingen CISD Performing Arts Center. UTRGV Photo by David Pike

Krouse has a special knack for active listening due to his previous experience as a clinical psychologist. This training taught him how to look for emotional cues and how to offer non-judgmental support. 

“It’s a big part of what I’ve done. I don’t think you set out to say, ‘I want to be a mentor,’” said Krouse.  “It evolves as people feel comfortable with you and more people learn that you’re someone who can do this.”

The nomination submitted for Krouse by his physician mentees explained that his expert mentorship, advocacy, and communication helped them develop a vision for their long-term career arcs that they would not have envisioned otherwise on their own. This is where Krouse said a lot of young physicians need assistance.

“Some have reached a point and are not sure what the next stage is for them,” said Krouse. “Some have well-established goals and come to me because they have identified how I can help them be more successful in achieving those.”

Krouse explains that he usually has up to a half dozen mentees at once, but he doesn’t consider the time that he spends with them to be a burden. 

“It’s not very formal a lot of the time – a chat over a cup of coffee. It’s a much more collegial relationship than a formal mentorship hour,” he said. “I don’t have all the answers, but I know how to help them find answers that are important for them.”

School of Medicine, Cohort 3, White Coat Ceremony at the Harlingen CISD Performing Arts Center. Keynote speaker, Dr. John Prescott, CAO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, right, shakes hands with Dean John Krouse UTRGV Photo by David Pike

In addition to helping with specific problems they may be having, Krouse is determined to instill a few concepts in his mentees that are critical for their success as physicians: flexibility, communication, humility, and work-life balance. 

“Life never comes predictably, and you need to learn to be adaptable,” he said. “My life has taken many of those turns. It’s important to realize when barriers are present and how to navigate them.”

Krouse said he is honored to have been recognized with this Model Mentor award as he has always considered mentorship a huge part of his career. 

“It gives me great satisfaction when I see people who I work with succeed,” he said. “When you see someone reaching overall satisfaction, you can feel gratified that you had a small part in getting them there.” 

Krouse announced in September 2020 that he will be stepping down from his administrative posts to join the School of Medicine faculty. UTRGV recently named Dr. Michael B. Hocker as the new dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine. He starts in his new role on June 28.

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