From Pharmaceutical Sales to Academic Mentoring and Research: Introducing MBM Director of Mentoring Devorah Curtis
Devorah Curtis, PhD, is the Director of Mentoring for the College of Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook University, a unique position that aims to enrich student satisfaction and improve student retention by pairing students with a mentor from the time they start the program through graduation day.
Devorah’s interest in mentoring began while working at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. While working as a pharmaceutical sales representative she noticed that several new employees experienced difficulty while transitioning to the corporate culture. Rarely did senior management have time to orient new hires to the nuances of the corporate environment, such as how to communicate with managers regarding what they needed to be effective at their jobs. Because of the lack of feedback, these individuals often felt disconnected and uncertain about their performance abilities. This type of work environment was not a place where people had the opportunity to thrive according to their strengths.
In response to what she witnessed, as well as personally experienced, Devorah created a mentoring process where new hires were paired with senior level sales representatives who were familiar with the culture of the company and also had a passion to help people grow and develop their professional interests and career. Eventually, her dedication to building a connected work force led her to secure a position as a “human resources business partner” within the sales division. In the human resources department she was able to continue her interest in mentoring on a broader scale. Devorah worked in collaboration with multiple business leaders, including the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and the company successfully launched a national mentoring program that is still in place today.
The skills that Devorah cultivated while creating a mentoring program in the corporate environment transferred seamlessly to her position as Director of Mentoring in the College of Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook University.
Devorah’s vision for her role as Director of Mentoring is to use evidence-based practices to continue to expand the mentoring program. For example, she is using the academic rigor that she learned as a student at Saybrook to conduct a research study on the mentoring program. Devorah, and her colleagues Drs. Lisa Kelly and Luann Fortune, are in the process of developing a faculty led study of the mentoring program. Using a qualitative study design they plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in impacting student satisfaction and retention. The intention of conducting the study is to understand how students benefit from their relationship with a mentor within a predominately distance-based curriculum, and then to follow this model to support the ongoing growth of this program, and to provide guidelines for other graduate level programs.
The College of Mind Body Medicine embraces the spirit of the scholar-practitioner, due to the rich and practical experience working professionals bring to the academic environment. In addition to her role as Director of Mentoring at Saybrook, Devorah is a member of a holistic team of health care practitioners at Stevens Naturopathic Center in Liberty Lake, Washington. In August 2011, Devorah achieved a PhD in Psychology with concentrations in Integrative Health Studies and Organizational Systems from Saybrook University, College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies. Her academic knowledge coupled with her professional experience complements her role at the naturopathic wellness center as an Integrative Life Coach and Wellness Counselor. Devorah works closely with individuals to help them identify and achieve their highest potential in their professional and personal life. An interesting characteristic of this group of practitioners is they developed a patient-centered care model and function collaboratively, as opposed to operating as individual contractors. In this unique structure, clients complete a comprehensive health assessment, and then based on their identified needs, individuals are referred to and work with the appropriate practitioner(s). In the future, Devorah would like to study this model of patient-centered care and hopes to invite students that are interested in researching this particular type of collaborative healthcare model to join her.