March 04, 2020

Five Ways to Be a Great Mentee

By Yasha Parikh Gupta, MD, resident at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA.

Our primary job as residents is to learn and practice radiology so that we can become competent practitioners once we begin our lives as attendings. However, in order to become successful, an important piece of the puzzle comes in the form of networking. Often times, who you know is even more important than what you know — but it takes work to cultivate these relationships.

A good mentor-mentee relationship is vital to the success of radiologists today. Whether your mentorship is about radiology leadership, business, or advocacy, every trainee can benefit from the advice of those that came before us.

Here are five ways to ensure you are being the best mentee you could possibly be:

1. Know your goals. While it may seem obvious, being aware of your future goals can really benefit you when it comes to speaking with mentors. You should be open and honest about what you are trying to achieve. Mentors can then guide you in the right direction and create stepping stones to help you reach those goals.

2. Give updates often. Mentors are very busy and are volunteering their time to help you, so it is imperative that you take the initiative to send status updates about your goals. If you received an award or publication, your mentor would likely love to know! Instead of overloading their email inbox, you can send updates quarterly or leading up to a conference where you may be able to meet in person.

3. Be responsible. If your mentor has gone out on a limb for you, make sure you hold up your end of the bargain. This means being timely and punctual with deadlines and making sure project timelines stay on track. Again, mentors are there to help you, but your success depends on you!

4. Be open. You want to be the go-to person anytime the mentor has an idea or opening for a position. Being excited about projects that come your way shows your mentor that they can send you more projects. Sometimes, the projects are not exactly what you had in mind — and that’s okay, too! Many times, these projects will lead to other opportunities that otherwise would not have found you. Attitude is everything.

5. Be respectful of your mentor’s time. Always have an agenda when meeting via telephone or in person. This way, your meeting will be efficient and you will hit the ground running. Coming prepared with updates on your goals and potential areas for growth will let your mentor know exactly how to help you best. If this is at a conference, scheduling your meeting early can help create potential contacts even at the conference to help reach your goals more effectively.

That’s it! Really, all it takes to be a good mentee is to be excited, enthusiastic, and respectful of your mentor’s time. This will help you successfully create projects outside of your residency program and can help you take your talents to the national level.