In order to be successful in any field, we need guidance along the way. We often look up to our parents, teachers, and coaches as role models for who we want to become. Eventually, through schooling and in the workplace, we encounter our mentors – those who are wiser than we are in many ways. They are our guideposts to help us reach our goals and become the very best versions of ourselves.
Recently, a very dear mentor and buddy of mine, Dr. Eli Shuter, passed away. If you knew him, you probably know that he wasn’t just the leading neurologist in St. Louis, but he also started the neurology program in the ‘60s at Christian Hospital Northwest. He also served as a Medical Staff leader, board member, the Chair of the Bylaws Committee, Chair of the Credentials & Evaluation Committee, and Chief of Medical Staff at Christian Hospital Northeast – Northwest where I was fortunate to work for 28 years of my career as a Medical Staff Services Professional. Needless to say, he was very involved.
Dr. Shuter was a very effective Medical Staff leader. He possessed a lot of power and carried himself with dignity and respect. It was easy for others to feel intimidated by him initially. He wasn’t scary to me, though. He was honest, ethical, and highly skilled and expected others to demonstrate this level of professionalism as well. He never presented himself as having airs or being above anyone else. Often when I needed to work later at night, this renowned doctor would work alongside me, helping me put credentialing packets together! He also groomed me for medical staff speaking engagements, and when I wound up becoming more verbose than I intended, he would look at me and simply say, “Donna, I asked you what time it was, not how the watch was made.” This piece of advice really helped me become an even better speaker and listener, and I’ll never forget it. His wise advice keeps me in check and makes me smile to this day!
I still use my experiences from Christian Hospital NE-NW and the guidance and knowledge I received from Dr. Shuter more than 15 years ago. When I saw him for the last time back in February, I made sure to tell him this, and he smiled when I told him. In a way, I will continue to carry his legacy through my work.
Dr. Shuter’s life was celebrated earlier this month on June 4 at Schlafly Bottleworks in St. Louis. Anyone walking into the room could tell that he was well-loved because the place was filled to the brim with family, friends, and colleagues. It filled my heart to see new and familiar faces all coming together in celebration of this man’s life, a person who clearly had touched so many other lives.
It just goes to show that having a mentor and being one yourself is monumental. Mentors believe in you so much that you feel as if you are allowed to fail, but you want to get up, dust yourself off, and try again. They are your cheerleaders who are there for you in your moments of victory, your voices of reason when you need to be tugged in the right direction, and your “buddies” who will be there for you when the chips are down. When you surround yourself with others that possess the same passion as you, their belief in you allows you to do things that you once thought were impossible.
Mentorship comes full circle as well. I, too, am honored and proud to have served as a mentor to others. I am always happy to share my knowledge with those who seek it. I do it out of respect for my colleagues and with the desire to advance the industry. This will never change; it is ingrained in who I am as a person, and I will always give back.
Today, MSPs, I challenge you to think of ways you can pay it forward. If you see a fellow colleague struggling, lend a helping hand in some way. Be an extra brain to pick and a caring ear to listen to for your colleagues. You really don’t know whose life you are affecting by your actions and words!
And to Dr. Shuter – thank you so much, buddy, for teaching me so well. I will miss you dearly.