August 10, 2020

The Power of Mentorship

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

Two women at a table talking

I’ve always believed mentorship is the key to success — in any field, but especially medicine. When you take a look at the world of radiology, you quickly realize that most radiologists are both white and male. As an Indian female, I have felt out of place since my first interactions with radiology — the interviews. During these last couple of years in residency, I have become committed to improving the overall diversity within radiology, as it relates to both race and gender. Improving connections between female radiologists is step one, but how do we get more women and minorities into the specialty?

This is how the mentorship program was born. What started out as an idea, quickly took form during a week of my overnight shifts. While I had some down time, I created Google forms and sent them out into the world — one for mentors and one for mentees. These forms were shared on social media, including Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook.

The response was beyond anything I could have imagined. Many mentees asked to be paired with mentors who were Black, from specific geographical areas, and with specific interests. Likewise, many mentors asked to be paired with female students, aligned interests, or even specific matching experiences, such as couples matching. Given the huge amount of interest from both mentors and mentees, we were able to match almost everyone with at least one aligning factor — a DO or International Medical Graduate (IMG) match, couples matching, a match based on geographical interest or research interest, etc.

This was the most rewarding part of the process. While many mentor/mentee matches are made automatically or with a program, hand-picking mentor/mentee matches felt like we were changing lives, one at a time. From creating connections to helping people match within their specified geographical location, from helping IMGs navigate the grueling match process to bringing research projects into the laps of medical students, the feeling was unmatched. All of this was on top of the numerous messages on Twitter and via email letting us know that the mentees were having an incredible experience feeling supported by the radiology community — truly what we created here goes beyond what I could have ever imagined.

When I say “we,” this includes a number of parties. First and foremost is ACR Senior Director Jan Cox, PHR, SHRM-CP, who stepped in when I needed help getting matches done in a timely manner. Between myself and Jan, all matches were hand-picked! The second part is the medical students — we are so excited to have such a huge number of medical students interested in radiology. And lastly, the radiology mentors who stepped up to help — I was blown away by the 400 mentors who volunteered their time. This is the definition of community, and I know the future of radiology is bright with support like this.