A Foundation for the Future

How One ID Specialist Honors His Mentor

For Terrel Sanders, MD, his mentor is more than just his mentor.

“We actually call him ‘Dad,’” Dr. Sanders says of Ryan Maves, MD, FIDSA. “He’s someone who I want to model my practice and my behavior as a physician after. He’s like a coach who embodies all of the attributes of what a great mentor is.”

As a kid in rural South Carolina, becoming a doctor seemed like a remote possibility for Dr. Sanders. However, his science and math scores prompted his teachers to recommend him for a summer science camp in honor of the late Ronald E. McNair, PhD, a native of South Carolina and crew member on the Challenger Space Shuttle. That experience helped Dr. Sanders realize medicine was his calling. It also introduced him to the power of mentorship.

“One of my mom’s biggest regrets was not going to college and not being able to guide me through that process. Fortunately, I had mentors to help me apply for the SATs and submit college applications. Without those early mentors, I would not be here today,” he said.

Dr. Sanders first encountered Dr. Maves during his residency at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego and a rotation in the ICU. He was immediately struck by Dr. Maves’ professionalism and more importantly, the trust Dr. Maves placed in him during a challenging case.

“From the beginning he said, ‘I trust you. Your heart’s in the right place; you know your stuff. I know you’ll call me if you need me.’ For someone to have that kind of confidence in you is inspiring. The challenges and rewards of finding a mentor that humble and awesome and brilliant is indescribable,” Dr. Sanders said.

Watching Dr. Maves at work inspired Dr. Sanders to pursue the challenging path of ID.

“Seeing his enthusiasm, how passionate he was about his job, his patients and the field of ID, convinced me this is what I wanted to do. This is where I wanted to be,” Dr. Sanders said. “He’s had my back and as a mentee, that makes you step your game up. He really has helped lay the foundation for my career.”

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